Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer; Ernesto Mauri, chief
executive of Italian publisher Mondadori, the magazine's owner;
and two photographers from a Paris agency who are suspected of
taking the pictures appeared at a court hearing in the Paris
suburb of Nanterre to answer charges brought under French
Closer magazine, a weekly round-up of celebrity gossip,
published in September 2012 a series of photos of Middleton, the
wife of Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne,
topless while on holiday in southern France.
Britain's royal family began legal action against the magazine
for what it called a "grotesque" breach of privacy after
publication of the pictures, taken as the royal couple relaxed
on a balcony of a chateau in the Luberon region.
The pictures rekindled memories in Britain of the media pursuit
of William's mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car
crash in Paris in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi.
The two photographers, present in court on Tuesday, denied
having taken the photos, saying they had been unable to find out
where the royal couple were staying.
"We went round and round looking for bodyguards, British cars
... We didn't see anybody," one of the photographers, Cyril
Moreau, told the court.
Court documents said that mobile phone records showed that the
two photographers were in the vicinity of the house at the time.
A lawyer for the magazine sought to justify publication of the
photos on public interest grounds, saying they disproved rumors
circulating at the time that Middleton might be anorexic.
Jean Veil, lawyer for the Duchess of Cambridge, said the article
which accompanied the photos was only a pretext for publishing
The court will hand down its ruling on July 4.
(Reporting by Helene Dauschy; Writing by Adrian Croft; Editing
by Andrew Callus and Hugh Lawson)
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