PARIS—France’s love affairs of state hit the courts on Thursday as the president’s ex-girlfriend won a privacy case on the same day that the mistress who replaced her began her own suit against the paparazzi.
Valerie Trierweiler, the former partner of French President Francois Hollande, won 12,000 euros ($16.500) damages in an action she launched over pictures of her recovering from their break-up on a tropical beach.
A court at Nanterre in the Paris suburbs ordered weekly glossy Closer to cough up the cash, which was less than a quarter of the maximum 50,000 euros her lawyers had demanded.
The magazine, whose revelations of Hollande’s affair with actress Julie Gayet triggered the split, must also publish the legal judgment on its front page.
The offending article detailed how Trierweiler, 48, had jetted off to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius days after Hollande publicly dumped her.
The four-page spread was accompanied by pictures of Trierweiler and two girlfriends in their swimwear.
“The hurt caused is all the greater because the article capitalized on the difficult period that (Trierweiler) was going through,” the court ruling said.
“The number of photographs taken, obviously with a telephoto lens, suggests she was subject to intrusive surveillance by a photographer.”
Georges Kiejman, Trierweiler’s barrister, welcomed an “excellent and very well-reasoned judgment which hopefully will put an end to the intrusion into my client’s private life by Closer and other publications of a similar nature”.
The magazine did not want to comment.
By coincidence, the Trierweiler ruling was announced on the day that Gayet brought her own privacy suit against Closer.
The 41-year-old is also seeking 50,000 euros in compensation, as well as 4,000 euros in legal costs.
‘No public interest in story’
Closer made waves in early January by publishing photographs of Hollande arriving on a scooter at an apartment near the Elysee presidential palace.
The magazine said the 59-year-old president was a regular visitor to the flat for trysts with the actress, with whom he had been having an on-off affair for over two years.
Gayet has also pressed criminal charges against a photographer who took snaps of her in her car, which Closer published on Jan. 17.
Under French law, the inside of a car is considered to be a private space and subject to the country’s strict privacy laws.
Hollande split with longtime partner Trierweiler following the Closer revelations but has refused to say whether he is still seeing Gayet. Officially, he has become a bachelor president.
Gayet, who has been lying low since the affair was made public, did not attend Thursday’s hearing, at which her lawyer suggested she had been stalked like a hunter’s prey by the photographer who got the pictures of Hollande.
“This hearing is not just about Julie Gayet,” Jean Enocchi told the court. “This was not an article with a legitimate objective. It’s about nosiness, about voyeurism, an undercover operation.”
“Where is the public interest in revealing the name of Julie Gayet and publishing a picture of her?”
Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer, defended her scoop ahead of the hearing, saying the affair was the talk of the town already.
“We did our job as journalists in correctly informing the public about something they had a right to know,” she said.
Gayet made her first public appearance since the scandal broke on Friday, when she attended the ceremony for the Cesars, the French Oscars.
Gayet was nominated for but did not win the award for best supporting actress—ironically for a role as a seductive foreign ministry official called Valerie.—Angus MacKinnon
Originally posted: 12:10 am | Friday, March 7th, 2014