Paparazzi go on trial for invasion of Dodi's privacy

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The Independent Online

Three French photographers went on trial yesterday for taking pictures of Dodi Fayed and Diana, Princess of Wales, before and after their fatal car crash in Paris in 1997.

The three men are accused of infringing Dodi Fayed's right to privacy by taking pictures of the couple in their car immediately before the crash and photographing the couple in their wrecked limousine a few minutes later. The pictures were confiscated and have never been published.

The photographers, who were among the nine originally accused of causing the crash but cleared without trial, told the court they were "doing their job" as journalists. The case arises from a complaint by Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi's father. Since Diana's family has not brought a similar case, the trial was technically confined to pictures taken of Dodi.

The case turns on whether the photographers invaded Dodi Fayed's privacy by taking pictures of him inside a car. A precedent exists in French law that the inside of a car is as private as the inside of a house. Rolls of film seized by the police at the time, show Dodi and Diana in the Mercedes after it left the Ritz hotel. They also show the dead Dodi and mortally injured Diana inside the wrecked limousine.

No photographer has been successfully prosecuted in France for taking an unpublished picture. French magazines and press organisations are concerned that a conviction in this case could seriously infringe press freedom.

If found guilty, Jacques Langevin, Christian Martinez and Fabrice Chassery face up to a year in jail. Lawyers said they were more likely to be fined. Judgment was delayed.