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The Duchess of Cambridge and the Paparazzo

Duchess of Cambridge and the Paparazzo

The decision to publish photographs in France, Eire and Italy of the Duchess of Cambridge has caused a great deal of discussion and chatter. The fact that the Duke is taking legal action against the French edition of Closer, the magazine which first published the ‘papped’ photographs, is reminiscent of Princess Caroline of Hannover’s experience. Photographs of Princess Caroline have been published on at least three occasions. Each time she took her case to the European Court of Human Rights: in 2004 the breach of privacy was acknowledged because she was photographed in a “secluded place”. More recently Princess Caroline lost her case because of the public interest in her family life, her father was unwell and it was the conduct of the family that was of public interest.

At the heart of the matter is the conflict between privacy (Article 8) and freedom of expression (Article 10). Freedom of expression, in terms of public interest is often used to justify publication. Publications thrive on circulation and profit is often the motive for risk taking, after-all Closer’s editor is happy to pay the fine as a penalty for increased sales. Moreover, the photographer is at liberty to sell the images to multiple publications and remain unaffected by the furore surrounding their publication. This is because it is the disclosure of the photographs that is the offence. The photographer merely banking the sale: that is until now, because he or she is likely to be charged. If so, this will be a game changer. In the future, Paparazzi will have to consider the consequences of photographing the Duchess of Cambridge, topless or otherwise.