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February 4, 2014

Hello! avoids privacy case after printing pap holiday shots of Kate Middleton and Prince George

By Darren Boyle

Kensington Palace has maintained its silence after Hello! Magazine printed paparazzi shots of Kate Middleton on holiday with Prince George.

The magazine photographed the pair as they were leaving a British Airways aircraft on the island of St Vincent.

The Duchess of Cambridge was carrying her infant son who was wearing a white romper suit.

It is understood she had flown out to join her parents Carole and Michael on the holiday island of Mustique.

Last year, the Royal Family threatened legal action after an Italian magazine printed topless photographs of Middleton on holiday in France.

However, this year, the Royal Family has decided against any form of action as the photographs were taken “in a public place, without any harassment or pursuit”.

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Commenting on the decision, media law specialist Ryan Mowat of Kingsley Napley LLP said: “The approach of the Royal Family this time round is perhaps a little surprising given that children have a greater expectation of privacy. However, maybe the Royal Family has taken the view that as intrusion is more difficult to establish in a public place, pictures of Kate Middleton on a beach were more damaging or upsetting to her. Ultimately, the Royal Family will have conducted a balancing exercise and decided that it is not a battle that is worth fighting.

“The concern is that the message to the media is inconsistent and it potentially sets a dangerous precedent by opposing some pictures but not others. It is inevitable that there will be problems in the future where the boundaries as to what is and isn’t private and/or intrusive are unclear. One would expect the media to push those boundaries as far as they feel they reasonably can."

He added: “We are still waiting for a high-profile case in this country where protection of privacy is tested in court on facts similar to those involving Kate Middleton and Prince George (previously foreign publications). Some consistency is needed in this area of the law and the danger is that the conflicting stance taken by the Royal Family may impact on how these cases are pursued further down the line.”

The Royals have appealed to editors not to use paparazzi photos and to follow their industry's code of practice.

The Cambridges have sought redress through the French legal system after topless pictures of Kate which were published in France's Closer magazine in 2012.

In 2009, when still William's girlfriend, Kate was photographed playing tennis on Christmas Eve while on holiday in Cornwall and the image was syndicated by a picture agency to foreign media outlets.

The Duchess later won £5,000 in damages and an apology from Rex Features for invasion of privacy.

Kensington Palace declined to comment.

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