BREAKING NEWS: Two people 'charged' over topless photographs of Kate Middleton
Photographer under investigation named by legal sources as Valerie SuauShe took images of Kate in France in September and called them 'decent'But she's now facing trial along with publisher of French Closer magazine
17:23 GMT, 24 April 2013
18:06 GMT, 24 April 2013
A woman photographer has been placed under formal criminal investigation for taking pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge as she sunbathed in France, it was revealed today.
Legal sources in Paris said she was believed to be Valerie Suau, who took images of Kate in the south of the country in September.
Ms Suau originally described her pictures, published in France's La Provence regional newspaper, as 'all decent'.
Probe: Legal sources in Paris said the photographer facing an investigation was believed to be Valerie Suau (left), who took images of Kate (right) in the south of France in September
But she is now facing a criminal trial along with the publisher of French Closer magazine, which first ran the shocking pictures.
Kate, 31, and 30-year-old Prince William took legal action against Closer in September, as their lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, described the Duchess as a 'a young woman, not an object'.
He said the royal couple had suffered a 'grotesque breach of privacy' and felt 'violated' during a 'highly intimate moment during a scene of married life'.
Ms Suau, whose name is pronounced 'sewer', has kept a low profile ever since the case, but police are believed to have arrested her earlier this month.
She took the photos on September 5 as the couple relaxed at Viscount Linley's retreat, Chateau d'Autet, in Provence.
Referring to Princess Diana's death in 1997, Mr Hamelle said it was 'just six days after the 15th anniversary of the cynical and morbid hunt which led to the death of William's mother'.
Controversial images: The French magazine Closer showed topless pictures of Kate in an issue last September
Mr Hamelle told the court William and
Kate could not have known they were being spied on and a photographer
would have needed a long lens, even if he or she was on a public road.
Mr Hamelle said that if the original
digital images were not handed in, the Mondadori group – which publishes
Closer – should be fined 8,000 a day for non-compliance.
The Duke and Duchess also launched
criminal proceedings against the then unnamed photographer under
France's strict privacy laws.
The French media are protected from
having to name their sources – including photographers – but the royal
couple are said to have made it a personal crusade to discover who took
Ms Suau has denied being responsible
for taking any indecent images. She says she took pictures of Kate in her swimsuit – but not topless.
Delphine Pando, representing the
magazine, argued that topless photographs were no longer considered
She denied that the chateau was
inaccessible to public view and claimed the magazine did not hold the
rights to the pictures, so it could not be proved that it intended to
Photography spot: Some pictures were shot from a public road on a hill less than half-a-mile from the former hunting lodge, close to the medieval village of Viens, although it is possible to get closer on foot
Ms Suau, who lives close to Chateau
d'Autet, deep in the Provence countryside east of Avignon, told friends
there was no sign of British or French police anywhere, so allowing 'any
photographer who wanted' to take images.
Some were shot from a public road on a
hill less than half-a-mile from the former hunting lodge, close to the
medieval village of Viens, although it is possible to get closer on
The road, and nearby path, offers
clear views of the Chateau's raised swimming pool and its sun loungers,
where Kate and William spent most of their four day break.
It was from here that a set of
intimate images were captured and later published in the French Closer
magazine, which is now being sued by the couple for invasion of privacy.
Ms Suau produced one set of pictures
on Friday September 7th – the day the couple left. This is the same day
that the Closer pictures were taken.
She aimed her camera at the pool at
around 1.30pm, where she saw William wearing just a pair of swimming
shorts and sunglasses as he read his iPad. Kate, meanwhile, was in a