Julie Gayet wins privacy suit against Closer

A French court has fined two tabloid magazine executives and a photographer over a photo of Julie Gayet, who became the subject of media hounding after her affair when President François Hollande was revealed in January.

Julie Gayet wins privacy suit against Closer
Actress Julie Gayet, who had an affair with Hollande, won her privacy suit against Closer magazine on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

French actress Julie Gayet, whose affair with President François Hollande made headlines worldwide, on Tuesday won a privacy case against a photographer who snapped her in her car.

A court in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre also fined two senior executives of French glossy magazine Closer, which splashed the photograph only a week after revealing the affair in early January.

The court handed paparazzo Laurent Viers a suspended fine of €1,000 ($1,300) for taking the photo, which Closer splashed with the caption: "It's in her white Citroen that Julie Gayet meets the president."

Carmine Perna, director general of Closer publisher Mondadori Magazines France, and the magazine's editor-in-chief Laurence Pieau both received suspended fines of €3,000.

Under French law, the inside of a car is considered to be a private space.

Pieau had earlier contested this, telling the court that "for me, a car is not a private space" but refused comment after Tuesday's ruling.

"It's an important ruling," said Jean Ennochi, lawyer for the 41-year-old actress, adding that it was the first time that officials from Closer had been sentenced.

Viers had previously said he was merely tracking the actress "to have some information". Gayet, meanwhile, told prosecutors she "just could not shake him off".

Closer set off a political earthquake in January by publishing photographs purportedly showing Hollande arriving for trysts on a scooter at an apartment near his official residence in the heart of Paris.

It claimed the affair began two years ago.

The scoop, complete with salacious details of late-night trysts near the Elysée presidential palace and bodyguards being dispatched to buy croissants for the pair in the morning, saw Hollande ridiculed in many newspapers globally.

The revelations also led to the break-up of Hollande's relationship with partner Valérie Trierweiler, for whom he left his long-time companion Segolène Royal, France's current environment minister and mother of his four children.

In March, a French court ordered Closer to pay the actress €15,000 in damages for breach of privacy, short of the €50,000 Gayet demanded when she filed the suit.

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