Photographer fined for Princess Diana and Dodi luxury yacht photos

Princess Diana relaxing on a luxury yacht

AFP:- A Paris appeals court has convicted British celebrity photographer Jason Fraser of invasion of privacy by snapping photos of Princess Diana kissing her boyfriend Dodi Fayed on a luxury yacht.

It overturned on Thursday the not guilty verdict made by another court in 2006 and fined Fraser, as well as the publisher of the France Dimanche weekly which published the pictures in 1997, 3,000 euros (2,400 pounds) each.

Fraser, 41, was also ordered to pay Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi’s father, 5,000 euros (3,900 pounds) in damages. The convicted men were also told to pay him 3,000 euros towards his legal fees.

It was Mohamed Al Fayed, the Egyptian-born billionaire owner of London’s upscale Harrods department store and the Ritz Hotel in Paris, who took the case to court.

They showed Diana and Fayed kissing on a yacht off the Italian Riviera village of Portofino shortly before the crash, and reportedly earned Fraser more than two million euros in sales to British tabloids and abroad.

He was taken to court in France because those British newspapers were available in France, and because the photos were also reprinted in the French publications Paris Match and France Dimanche.

The court in 2006 had found Fraser not guilty because it accepted arguments that the privacy of Diana and Fayed had not been breached because they had not tried to hide from photographers as they relaxed on the yacht.

But the appeals court on Thursday took a diametrically opposed view, ruling that not hiding from photographers “could not in any way be interpreted as an implicit acceptance that their pictures be taken.”

It noted that this argument was all the stronger because of the great lengths to which photographers went to take such pictures, using powerful zoom lenses, helicopters, and boats to snap celebrities.

The court said that France Dimanche for its part had published pictures “showing the couple in a moment of intimacy (in photos) taken by means which invaded their privacy.”

But Fraser’s lawyer William Bourdon said “the ruling is extremely questionable legally … we have high hopes that the supreme court will overturn this strange ruling.”

London-born Fraser, who speaks fluent French, was said to have been in close contact with Diana in the weeks before her death, but he was not in Paris the night of the crash that killed her and Fayed.

He told the BBC in 2002: “I was the person who revealed her relationship, I don’t know whether that feels good or not, but I will be remembered for it.”