French court orders magazine to hand over topless photos of Duchess of Cambridge

Royal family will pursue criminal case

NANTERRE, France (AP) - A French court has ordered the publisher of a gossip magazine to hand over all digital copies of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge and blocked the further publication of the images.

Under the ruling, the magazine Closer cannot publish the images of an intimate moment in the south of France any further, including on its website and tablet application.

The photos show the Duchess of Cambridge relaxing at a private villa in Provence, in southern France, sometimes without her bathing suit top and, in one case, her suit bottom partially pulled down to apply sun screen.

The magazine published 14 photos in its pages on Friday.

If the royal family had hoped to block international publication, it was too late.

Publications in Ireland and Italy already went ahead with them.

Tuesday's ruling only affects the French publisher.

The case is the first of two legal actions by the royals.

In a reflection of just how intent they are on protecting their privacy -- and likely dissuading paparazzi from future ventures, St. James's Palace said Sunday the family lawyers would file a criminal complaint.

The Sipa news agency reported that the Nanterre prosecutor's office opened a preliminary investigation on Monday for breach of privacy, receiving and complicity.

While no one was named, it would appear to cover the photographer or photographers involved in the case and possibly Closer.

The palace said it would be up to French prosecutors to decide whether to investigate and pursue a criminal
case for breach of privacy or trespassing.

Christopher Mesnooh, an American lawyer who works in Paris, said France strongly protects privacy but that tabloids have their reasons for publication, even when they might be in violation of the law.

"Closer magazine has done a very sophisticated cost-benefit analysis," Mesnooh told AP. "Whatever the amount of damages that a French court will award, it will be a fraction of the publicity that the magazine will have gained as well as the number of issues of this particular issue of Closer magazine which will be sold."

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