Tennis girl photo drama: Middleton sues photographer (update 10am)
January 14, 2010
A photographer is facing legal action for invasion of privacy after allegedly taking a photo of Prince William’s girlfriend Kate Middleton playing tennis on Christmas Day.
The legal action, reportedly lodged by the Queen’s solicitors Harbottle & Lewis, follows publication of photos in Germany that apparently show Middleton playing tennis at Restormel Manor in Cornwall on Christmas Day.
It is understood that the photographer, who has so far not been named, was on a public footpath at the time.
Middleton has reportedly issued a warning to the photographer’s agency, Rex Features, and is seeking damages for invasion of privacy.
Last month the Queen warned newspapers not to publish ‘private’ pictures of the Royal family over the Christmas period, even those taken by a photographer who is on public land.
At the time it was made clear that the Royals would not hesitate to take legal action if newspapers fail to heed the warning.
Rules laid down by the UK’s press watchdog, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), state: ‘It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent. Note – Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.’
Neither Harbottle & Lewis, nor Rex Features, were available for comment when contacted by Amateur Photographer this morning.
The PCC told us it could not discuss the specifics of the case in view of the ongoing legal action.
However, its director of communications Jonathan Collett said: ‘It is the case that the PCC is always concerned with matters of publication in the UK concerning harassment and intrusion, and regularly takes action.’
The controversy was first reported by London’s Evening Standard last night.
The subject may evoke memories of the famous ‘Tennis Girl’ poster from the 1970s.
The picture was shot by photographer Martin Elliott on a tennis court at Birmingham University in the summer of 1976 ? using a Nikon F1 camera and Kodak film.
The image attained iconic status when it was made into an Athena poster.
The girl in the picture was the photographer’s then girlfriend, Fiona Butler. Apparently, she couldn’t even play tennis at the time.
In 2007 Amateur Photographer magazine gave away a limited-edition canvas print of the photograph (see story pictured).
There is a growing list of successful legal actions by celebrities against paparazzi photographers.
So protective are some high-profile figures of their privacy that – in a bid to thwart paparazzi – last year it was claimed that Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch, had installed an ‘anti-paparazzi laser shield’ on one of his yachts.
Picture: The subject may evoke memories of the famous ‘Tennis Girl’ photo from the 1970s. It was captured by Martin Elliott on a tennis court at Birmingham University in the summer of 1976 ? using a Nikon F camera and Kodak film. The image attained iconic status when it was made into an Athena poster. In 2007, Amateur Photographer gave away a limited-edition canvas print of the photograph. There is no suggestion that the photographer being sued by Middleton took this type of image, however