Trial to open in France over Kate topless sunbathing photos

Trial to open in France over Kate topless sunbathing photos
PHOTO: AFP

PARIS - Six media representatives will go on trial Tuesday over the publication of long-lens photographs of Prince William's wife Kate sunbathing topless in France that caused a scandal in Britain.

The case relates to photos printed in the glossy French magazine Closer and regional daily La Provence in September 2012.

The royals were vacationing in southern France at the time at a chateau owned by Viscount David Linley, the son of Princess Margaret, the late sister of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

One of the most intimate shots shows the Duchess of Cambridge topless and having suncream rubbed into her buttocks by husband William.

Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer in France, Ernesto Mauri, chief executive of the Mondadori group which owns the magazine, and Cyril Moreau and Dominique Jacovides, two Paris-based agency photographers suspected of having taken the topless photos, will appear on charges of invasion of privacy and complicity.

The royal couple are not expected to attend the trial in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre.

The case has already been delayed for four months after the lawyer for the agency photographers was granted more time to prepare their defence.

Prince William's Kensington Palace office refused to comment when contacted by AFP.

Pieau defended her publication's actions at the time of the initial scandal, saying the pictures were not in the "least shocking".

Grainy snaps

Police said two paparazzi were confirmed to be near the chateau at the time of the royal couple's stay after combing through lists of hotel guests and telephone numbers.

But both photographers have denied taking the photos, despite evidence that both received substantial payoff amounts after the images' publication.

The magazine however has always refused to divulge the identity of the photographer who took the topless pictures.

A week before Closer published the shots, other images of the couple from a different angle were printed in La Provence.

The paper's publishing director at the time, Marc Auburtin and photographer Valerie Suau will also go on trial Tuesday over those photos.

Suau has been charged over taking photos of Kate in a swimsuit in the same place, but the publication has denied that the photographer took any topless images.

The grainy snaps triggered a furious reaction from the British royal family and a furore in Britain where several newspapers had rejected an offer to buy the pictures.

The angry royal couple launched legal proceedings soon after they were published, with their lawyer arguing that the photos were particularly distressing for the couple as it brought back painful memories of William's late mother Princess Diana's death in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.

French authorities sided with the couple by banning any further reproduction of the pictures before launching a probe into how the snaps were obtained.

But the topless photos still appeared in several other European publications in Italy's Chi, which, like Closer, is owned by Mondadori, in Ireland's Daily Star and sister magazines in Sweden and Denmark.

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