THE Duchess of York was yesterday awarded more than pounds 60,000 damages by a French court over intimate photographs taken during her holiday with her 'financial adviser', John Bryan, in St Tropez.
The pay-out equals the previous record for damages in France, where awards are usually low, but falls far short of the hoped-for pounds 2.4m. Mr Bryan, 37, a Texan bachelor, was awarded pounds 25,000. All the Duchess's net damages after legal fees will go to charity.
The court at Nanterre Palais de Justice near Paris ruled that the photographs of the Duchess, topless and kissing and frolicking with Mr Bryan by the side of a pool, were in breach of France's strict privacy laws.
The Duchess, now estranged from her husband, launched the legal action with Mr Bryan in October against the photographer, Daniel Agneli, and the magazine Paris Match, which published the pictures. Costs of pounds 6,000 were awarded against Mr Agneli the self-styled 'King of the Paparazzi' and the magazine.
The court said the magazine had 'blatantly intended to damage' the Duchess's reputation without any pretence of informing the public. It accused it of 'exploitation' for purely commercial ends. The pictures first appeared in the UK in the Daily Mirror. Mr Bryan failed in his attempts to prevent publication in Britain and France. Legal action was only brought in France because of that country's strict privacy laws.