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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July 2005, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Man guilty in Diaz topless case
Photographer John Rutter
Photographer John Rutter denied he forged a release form
A photographer accused of forging the signature of actress Cameron Diaz to try to sell topless photos of her has been convicted in the US.

John Rutter, 42, could be jailed for up to six years after being found guilty in a Los Angeles court of forgery, attempted grand theft and perjury.

In 2003, he tried to sell the photos back to her for $3.5m (2m).

Speaking after the verdict, Ms Diaz said: "I am very gratified that justice has been served."

But she said it was "unfortunate" the situation had occurred in the first place.

Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore in Charlie's Angels

The actress is one of a number of Hollywood stars who have urged Los Angeles prosecutors to do more to prevent celebrity harassment - in particular the increasingly aggressive tactics of the paparazzi, says the BBC's David Willis in Los Angeles.

Rutter had told the actress he was giving her "first refusal" to buy the photos taken 11 years earlier when she was an unknown teenage model, presenting her with a forged model release form.

If she did not pay up, he said he would offer the photos for sale worldwide.

Ms Diaz told the court the photographer told her the buyers were going to put the pictures in magazine spreads and on buses and advertising boards.

The actress contacted the authorities, who arrested Rutter after a sting operation.

Injunction

Rutter denied in court that he had forged Ms Diaz's signature on the release form. However, he accepted the signature was probably not real.

He was charged with theft over the alleged blackmail scheme, and perjury for testifying that the signature was authentic.

Ms Diaz, 32, said in court she had never signed a release form for the shoot.

A permanent injunction has been issued prohibiting Rutter from distributing the picture.

Rutter was taken into custody after the verdict. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 15 September.

The district lawyer's office is now considering the possibility of bringing conspiracy charges against agencies or individuals who orchestrate photo ambushes.

They are also looking into whether the dogged pursuit of celebrities by the paparazzi constitutes a crime.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See pictures from the court case




SEE ALSO:
Diaz extortion trial defence ends
22 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
Diaz signature 'looked authentic'
21 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
Diaz photographer begins defence
20 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
Diaz topless photo trial begins
14 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
Judge bans sale of Diaz pictures
26 Nov 03 |  Entertainment
Man 'tried to sell Diaz photos'
20 Nov 03 |  Entertainment



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