September 17, 2012 / 6:37 PM / 5 years ago

French court decision on topless photos due Tuesday

PARIS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A French court will announce on Tuesday whether it will enforce an injunction that Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate have sought against magazine Closer to prevent further publication of topless photos of her.

In an affair that has rocked Britain and reawakened a debate on privacy laws, lawyers for the royal couple, titled the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are seeking damages from Closer and have filed a separate complaint against a photographer that could lead to a criminal case.

The couple want to stop Closer from selling its photographs to any other media, including on the Internet, though an Irish newspaper has already broken an informal agreement in the British press not to publish them.

An official at the Nanterre court, near Paris, said the decision would be handed down on Tuesday.

Copies of Closer’s Friday edition flew off the shelves in France, snapped up by collectors, British tourists and curious French readers, as controversy over the photos raged.

“The stock has run out,” said newspaper vendor Jeremy Alluard, adding that his 30 copies of the magazine had sold out in an hour and a half. “There’s no way of getting any more at the depot, there are no more to be had,” he said.

A second vendor, Omar Abdel, said he had sold many copies to British tourists who explained they were unable to get hold of the weekly in Britain.

Buckingham Palace is also seeking damages from Closer’s publisher, Italian company Mondadori, owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is also no stranger to media intrusion.

Closer defended its publication of a dozen long-lens shots of the duchess on the balcony of a secluded villa which show her slipping off her bikini top, relaxing topless on a sun lounger and pulling down her bikini bottoms as her husband applies lotion.

William’s office branded the photos a “grotesque and totally unjustified” invasion of their privacy.

Britain’s tabloid papers, fighting for their reputations after a series of recent scandals, have refrained from publishing the pictures, even though they are available on the Internet and in the pages of a tabloid in neighbouring Ireland.

Italian gossip magazine Chi printed a 26-page special edition dedicated to the photos on Monday. Editor Alfonso Signorini told Reuters the images were harmless and that the balcony where the Duchess was sunbathing was visible from the street.

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