Bloomberg News

U.K. Royals Ask French Court to Stop Duchess Photo Sales

September 17, 2012

Royal Family's Lawyer Aurelien Hamelle

The British royal family’s lawyer Aurelien Hamelle said, “Chasing stars and intimate photos have nothing to do with doing the job of journalism.” Photographer: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

The French magazine Closer, which published topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, should be barred from selling them to other publications, a lawyer representing the British royal family said.

A judge is scheduled to issue a ruling today at 12 p.m. in Paris time on the family’s request for an injunction.

The magazine, owned by the Berlusconi family’s Arnoldo Mondadori Editore Spa (MN), should also be blocked from printing more copies of the current issue and should hand over digital versions of the pictures of the duchess, Kate, and her husband Prince William, sunbathing on a private estate, said Aurelien Hamelle, the royal family’s lawyer, at a court hearing yesterday in Nanterre, France.

“Chasing stars and intimate photos have nothing to do with doing the job of journalism,” Hamelle said. “It has nothing to do with a need to inform.”

Closer published the images last week, prompting responses from the royal family and the U.K. government. Parliament called for legal action and British Prime Minister David Cameron, through his spokesman, said he believed the royal couple “are entitled to their privacy.”

Hamelle also asked for 5,000 euros ($6,560) in expenses, 10,000 euros for each day the publisher doesn’t respect the injunction and 100,000 euros if the photos are sold.

Delphine Pando, the lawyer representing Mondadori at the hearing, said the magazine doesn’t have staff photographers and didn’t own the photos.

‘Out There’

“The photos are out there,” she said. “If a TV show wants to show an image of this edition, it’s got nothing to do with us.”

She also argued the villa where the couple were was visible from a nearby road and not as private and secluded as had been described. Hamelle said the nearest public road was about 600 meters (1,968 feet) away and telephoto lens was needed to get the pictures.

The dispute comes three weeks after News Corp. (NWSA:US)’s Sun tabloid in Britain broke with traditional practice by publishing images of Prince Harry naked at a party in Las Vegas. Those photos, initially published online by the U.S. website TMZ.com, may have inspired Closer, lawyers including Caroline Jan, a media lawyer at Kingsley Napley in London, have said.

The princes’ mother, Diana Princess of Wales, died in a Paris car crash 15 years ago while being pursued by French tabloid paparazzi on motorbikes.

To contact the reporters on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net; Gregory Viscusi at gviscusi@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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