THE photographer who took the topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge is British, it was claimed yesterday.
French paparazzo Pascal Rostain said the photographer who staked out the Royal couple on holiday was an Englishman living in the south of France.
He claimed the photographer was spying on their French chateau on the orders of France’s Closer magazine – the first to publish 13 intimate images of Kate and Willian last week.
Mr Rostain, in his 40s, is a close friend of former French first lady Carla Bruni and one of France’s most notorious long-lens photographers.
He told France Metro newspaper in Lyon: “The irony of this whole thing is that the photographer who took these pictures is an Englishman living in the south of France.
“These photos were taken on the orders of Closer, who asked him to sit around for several days to take them.
“For his efforts he did not earn a lot. He could have sold them for ¤10,000. But in fact he was just paid his wages for going to take them. And he didn’t put them on the open market either, where he could have earned a lot more.”
Another French photographer outside the Chateau d’Autet where the images were taken was a French woman Valerie Suau – nicknamed “The Sewer” because of the way her surname is pronounced.
She has admitted taking pictures of Kate covered up in her bikini top, but said she does not know who took the topless photos.
The Royal couple this week won a landmark injunction preventing further distribution of the images by Closer. The magazine has also handed over all files containing the images to representatives of the couple on the orders of the judge.
But the court made no ruling for the magazine to name the photographer – who has the right to protect his identity under France’s laws covering journalistic sources.
However, a criminal investigation is under way to find and prosecute the photographer, who could face a year in jail and a £36,000 fine. But the photos are still being touted on the open market, with magazines in Italy, Denmark and Sweden all publishing them.
Closer published 13 grainy images of Kate’s breasts and bottom last Thursday, a move branded “grotesque and unjustifiable” by a Royal spokesman.
Mr Rostain did not say he knew the identity of Kate’s photographer, but the man is known to be well connected among the French paparazzi .
Mr Rostain defended the photographer, adding: “As a photographer myself, I take the pictures I want and let the publication decide whether to print them. What they choose to print is not the photographer’s problem, but the editor’s.”
There are thought to be up to 200 photos taken of Kate and William at the time – many of them much more explicit.
Closer magazine’s editor, Laurence Pieau, defended her decision to publish 13 of the photos, insisting the images were “joyous”. She said: “These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like millions of women you see on beaches.
“They were not making any special effort to conceal themselves. Criticising our magazine is stupid.”