Two face charges over Duchess of Cambridge topless photos

Publisher of French edition of Closer magazine among those investigated

Two people have been placed under formal investigation for invasion of privacy after topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge were published by a French celebrity magazine.

The head of the publisher of the French edition of Closer magazine, named as Ernesto Mauri, and the photographer who took the pictures of Prince William and his wife sunbathing while they were on holiday in France last summer have been put under investigation, the last step in France before being charged.

A third person, photographer Valérie Suau, has also been "placed under formal investigation" for breach of privacy for taking photos of Kate in a bikini, which were published in regional paper La Provence.

The topless photos emerged last September, and most British outlets refused to publish them in the wake of the Leveson report. French Closer did publish them and St James's Palace launched legal proceedings against the magazine, one of the first instances of a case like this involving the royal family in modern times.

The complaint from St James's Palace sparked a criminal investigation, leading to the investigation confirmed on Wednesday.

An investigation does not necessarily lead to formal charges.

When the scandal broke last year, royal officials said a red line had been crossed in terms of the couple's privacy.

St James's Palace said the publication of the photos was "reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press during the life of [Princess] Diana".

The Duke and Duchess launched criminal proceedings against the photographer under France's strict privacy laws. A French court granted them an injunction in September preventing Closer from publishing further shots of Kate sunbathing topless. The pictures were apparently taken on the terrace of a guest house during a brief holiday with William in France last year.

Italian magazine Chi (Who) republished the photographs as did Danish magazine Se og Hør (See and Hear) and the Irish Daily Star.

The then editor of the Star, Michael O'Kane, was suspended while an internal investigation was held into his decision to run reproductions of the offending pages. He resigned in November.

Royal photographer Harry Page told Sky News at the time that the photos were taken on a 640-acre estate in the south of France.

The incident may have wider political implications, as French Closer and Chi are owned by Mondadori, a publishing company owned by the former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi.

Contributor

David Batty

The GuardianTramp

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