Photographer who took topless Kate Middleton pictures 'found'
But will dragging paparazzo through the mud do Duchess of Cambridge more harm than good?
THE photographer who took topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge on holiday in Provence has been identified by authorities in France and looks likely to face arrest, according to reports from Paris.
If found guilty, the paparazzo – understood to be a man, though he has yet to be publicly named – could be jailed for up to one year and fined £36,000 for breach of privacy, says the Daily Mirror.
French authorities have been seeking the identity of the snapper since Prince William launched a criminal complaint in Paris last month.
Kate Middleton was said to be devastated when pictures of her wearing nothing but a pair of bikini bottoms were published in the French gossip magazine, Closer. Up to 200 long-lens shots were taken in total while she and Prince William were relaxing by the pool at the Provencal holiday home of the Queen's nephew, Lord Linley.
Closer editor Laurence Pieau defended publication, saying: "What we saw in the pictures was a young couple who are just married, who are in love, who are beautiful, she is the princess of the 21st century. She's a young woman who's topless, just like the ones who can be seen on all of the beaches of France and the world. These pictures are full of joy, not degrading."
Pieau has since confirmed that she hired a freelance photographer to watch the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their holiday but she has refused to reveal his name. Under French law, Closer magazine has the right to protect his identity because of the country's rules protecting journalistic sources.
However, if the police can ascertain his identity, then he is liable to a large fine and even a prison sentence under French privacy laws. And the Mirror quotes a royal source saying: "William and Kate are determined to bring the person who took those photos to justice and they're pushing hard for a custodial sentence. They want to make an example of this person."
But is that such a good idea? On the gossip site Celeb Dirty Laundry, Jeanne Adams says it seems "unfair" that, if caught and sentenced, the photographer could go to jail "for essentially doing his job". If anyone should be made an example of, it should be the magazine, she says.
Adams asks: "Is dragging the photographer through the mud doing more harm that good for Kate who just wants to put this all behind her?"
Roz Zurko in The Examiner takes the side of the royal couple. Even though the damage is done, prosecuting the photographer might "ward off other invasion of privacy attempts in the future", she says.
"This type of humiliation for Kate was made possible because of this person's utter lack of decency. This is a crime that can never be erased, but the person responsible can be brought to justice."