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French magazine on hot seat over Kate photos

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

LONDON – The French magazine Closer could be shut and a photographer faces jail, prosecutors said Thursday, after the duke and duchess of Cambridge took legal action following the publication of topless pictures of her.

Representatives of Mondadori, which publishes Closer, are being questioned by prosecutors in Paris after they published photographs of the duchess, Kate, sunbathing topless on a private holiday in France last year.

Valerie Suau, a photographer, and her employer, the regional newspaper La Provence, also are under criminal investigation for printing pictures. Kate was not topless in those images.

“The photographer and legal representatives of both companies have been questioned concerning the photographing of a person on private property and the criminal use of these images,” said a spokesman for the prosecutors.

“The maximum penalty for this kind of offense is one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros [$59,000] for individuals,” he said.

“For corporate bodies, the fine is 45,000 euros, cessation of business for five years and public notification of the decision.”

Closer has argued that the photos were shot from a public road.

A court banned Closer from publishing any more of the images, but, since it applied only in France, could not prevent their publication in Italy, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden. The photos were not printed in Britain.

The duke, Prince William, is fiercely protective of his private life after his mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a car crash in Paris as she tried to escape paparazzi photographers.

A royal statement issued last year said the photos were “reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the duke and duchess for being so.”

On Thursday, a royal spokesman would only say that “the ongoing legal process is a matter for the French authorities.”

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