The Duchess of Cambridge is a young woman, not an object, judges told

Lawyers fight it out as Royal Family call for criminal charges against photographer

Nanterre

A French court was asked last night to impose punitive fines running to hundreds of thousands of euros on the French edition of Closer magazine if it republishes or distributes electronically the topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge.

In a bad-tempered hearing in Nanterre, west of Paris, a French lawyer representing the royal couple – officially known to the court as Monsieur William Arthur Mountbatten Windsor and his wife Katherine – accused the magazine of "violating the bodily intimacy" of the Duchess. He said that she was a "young woman, and not an object".

The lawyer, Aurélien Hamelle, demanded a series of injunctions under French privacy law to prevent Closer from republishing last week's edition and to bar electronic distribution of the images in any form. He also called for the magazine to be banned from syndicating the images and to be forced to hand over the electronic originals.

He said that he was not asking for Closer to be withdrawn from the shops or pulped because the edition had "manifestly sold out". The lawyer dismissed as "lacking in morality" and "unworthy" the magazine's arguments that the photographs of the Duchess were "normal" images of a "young couple on holiday". The tribunal de grande instance at Nanterre postponed its ruling until midday today.

Defending the magazine, Delphine Pando said the photo had been taken from a "public place" – a road 700m from a chateau in Provence belonging to Viscount Linley. They showed a young woman with bare breasts which was now regarded by French legal jurisprudence on the right to privacy as "banal" and "not at all shocking". There could not, she said, be one law for ordinary people and another for royalty.

Mr Hamelle dismissed her argument as "outrageous" and "lacking morality". Young women had won the right to show off their bodies if they wished to do so, he said. But Closer magazine was turning that "freedom" into a "diktat" by insisting that it had the right to show the Duchess partly clothed against her will.

He asked the three judges to consider how they would feel if their own daughter had been secretly photographed in this way. "The Duchess is a young woman, not an object," Mr Hamelle said. The publication of the photographs was especially distressing to Prince William, he said, because it came "15 years and 15 days" after the death of his mother, Diana Princess of Wales after a road accident while pursued by paparazzi photographers.

The hearing was part of a two-pronged legal offensive by the Royal Family in France. The Duke and Duchess's lawyers earlier asked French authorities to bring criminal proceedings against "x", or persons unknown, for breach of privacy and trespass.

This separate complaint under criminal law – a procedure seldom used by aggrieved French celebrities – appears to be intended to flush out the identity of the photographer. If the French prosecution service obtains a conviction in this other case, both the editor of Closer and the as-yet-unnamed photographer could face a fine or, much less likely, a short jail sentence. Royal lawyers may have hoped that the parallel civil and criminal complaints could prevent the images from embarking on a world tour of gossip magazines. If so, they were instantly disappointed.

Chi, the Italian sister magazine of the French Closer, published 64 images of the sunbathing Duchess yesterday, including some even more revealing than those which appeared last Friday.

* The editor of the Irish Daily Star, Michael O'Kane, was suspended last night by his publishers, Independent Star, after reprinting Closer's topless pictures of the Duchess on Saturday. The publishers said they would investigate the editorial decision.

Aurelien Hamelle: Kate's man in court by royal appointment

Aurélien Hamelle, the barrister representing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Paris, previously defended one of Princess Diana's favourite fashion designers, John Galliano.

However, William and Kate will be hoping he has better luck this time. Galliano was accused of using anti-Semitic and racist language in a Paris bar last year, and was subsequently convicted of "casting public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity".

Mr Hamelle is now a partner at Metzner Associés in Paris, which specialises in high-profile, white-collar crime, including money laundering, insider dealing and libel and slander. He has significant experience in international criminal law, extradition and European Court of Human Rights cases and is a member of the International Bar and European Criminal Bar Associations.

He also writes for French newspapers including Le Monde, Le Figaro and La Tribune. He was ranked as a "rising star" of the criminal Bar by Le Figaro last year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing