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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 13:18 GMT
Diana paparazzi found not guilty
Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed
Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed died in the crash
Three photographers have been acquitted of invading Princess Diana's privacy by taking pictures of her and Dodi Al Fayed on the night they died.

Jacques Langevin, Christian Martinez and Eric Chassery were among paparazzi following the couple in Paris in 1997.

The trial was the result of a civil suit filed by Mohammed Al Fayed who said that under privacy laws, the pictures should never have been taken.

Mr Al Fayed's lawyers have five days to appeal against the decision.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris says the verdict took less than 30 seconds to be delivered.

None of the three men were in court.

However, the lawyer for Mr Chassery said he was delighted with the court's decision, which he described as a bright judgement in the interests of the freedom of the press.

Precedent

This is the first time that the events of 31 August 1997 have come to court.

The three were originally among nine photographers investigated on manslaughter charges.

These were dropped, prompting Mr Al Fayed to make a criminal complaint.

A case brought by a French celebrity a few years ago established the legal precedent that a car could be considered a private space, meaning that the paparazzi should have asked permission before taking photos of the interior of the limousine.

However, lawyers for the three men argued in court that both Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed had actively courted publicity at times, with their friends sometimes tipping off the press as to their whereabouts.

The defence also pointed out that the photos in question had never been published.

Against that, Mr Al Fayed's lawyer had argued that the photographers' pursuit of lucrative images of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed amounted to nothing less than a manhunt.

He had asked the court to send a signal limiting the freedom of the paparazzi and asking for the three photographers to be fined a symbolic one euro each in damages.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"The verdict was welcomed by the photographers"



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