Royal Watch News
Royal privacy case
Jan 9, 2007, 13:50 GMT
Lawyers representing Kate Middleton, the girlfriend of Britain's Prince William, are preparing a test case to protect her from press intrusion.
Rapidly growing media interest in the brunette graduate has prompted legal firm Harbottle & Lewis, who act for Prince Charles, to being investigating criminal and civil law on harassment.
The lawyers are also understood to be considering using the Human Rights Act to protect Kate - who turns 25 today (09.01.07) - from intrusive paparazzi.
Harbottle & Lewis have issued a warning to the media to "sharpen up their act" or face legal action.
A spokesman for Clarence House said: "Ms Middleton is a private individual and as such can expect to have the privacy and private life that would be enjoyed by any member of the public."
The royal lawyers are said to be working closely with individual media organisations in an effort to work out an agreement to protect Kate, who has been dating William for four years.
If an agreement is not reached, Harbottle & Lewis are planning to take triple action - on individual photographers, national and foreign media organisations and their regulators.
Tim Toulmin, the spokesman for British press regulator, the Press Complaints Commission, said: "In the last decade alone we have dealt with thousands of cases where we call people off from harassing others. I cannot think of a case when it has not worked."
Individual photographers could be targeted through the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act. The act provides for criminal and civil proceedings and could be used against the worst offenders to warn off others.
Media professionals have expressed concern that the introduction of hard guidelines could compromise the work of photographers.
Paul Sanders, picture editor for Britain's The Times newspaper, said: "It is a fine line. Generally it is held to be crossing the limits of what is acceptable if you go on to private property, or block the person, invade their personal space or try to provoke them in some way to get a response."
(C) BANG Media International