Mondadori charged for 'invasion of privacy' over topless Duchess snaps

Ernesto Mauri, the chief executive of European publisher Mondadori, which licences Closer magazine from Bauer Media, has been charged with "invasion of privacy" following topless photographs taken of the Duchess of Cambridge, published last September.

Mondadori: published Duchess photos on French website
Mondadori: published Duchess photos on French website

The photos of the newly married Duchess (nee Kate Middleton), were taken using a long lens while she relaxed by the pool of a French holiday villa. They resulted in an official complaint from St James's Palace and a major backlash from readers in the UK.

Valerie Suau, a female photographer who works for the regional newspaper La Provence, was also charged by French judges with the same offence in an investigation described as "ongoing".

The charges amount to a significant victory for the Duke and Duchess ahead of the birth of their first child in July.

It marks the first time a senior member of the Royal family has sued in a foreign court to protect their privacy, and follows increasing media gaze after their royal wedding in April 2011.

St James's Palace, at the time, called the invasion "grotesque and totally unjustifiable" and believed it evokes memories of the late Princess Diana. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge launched legal action against the French edition of Closer magazine on 14 September.

The publishers of magazines and newspapers associated with the pictures were forced to respond quickly and strongly.

Paul Keenan, chief executive of Bauer Media, which owns the Closer brand and licences it to Mondadori, said he was "very disappointed" by the photos, and is believed to have moved quickly to have the photos taken down online.

Richard Desmond's Northern and Shell was also caught up in the furore after the Irish Daily Star, published in Ireland through a joint venture with Independent News & Media, ran colour paparazzi photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge in its Saturday edition on 15 September.

Media Week was told that the decision had "outraged" Desmond, whose business interests – as owner of the Daily Express and OK! Magazine among others – relies heavily upon the support of "royal-loving Middle England", and in having a relationship with St James’ Palace.

Two months later, Michael O'Kane, the editor of the Irish Daily Star newspaper, who had defended the pictures as "a service to our readers," was forced to resign.

Read how the Kate and Wills topless photo battle with the media unfolded here.

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