Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Saturday, 23 January 2010

Italy paparazzi probe said to involve Fiat heir photo

Archive photo of Lapo Elkann, June 2009
Fiat heir Lapo Elkann is said to be the subject of some of the photos

Italian prosecutors have begun a fresh investigation into the alleged blackmail of prominent figures by paparazzi, Italian newspapers say.

The prosecutors believe the rogue photographers may have extorted payments in return for withholding compromising photos, the papers said.

One prominent name mentioned is that of Lapo Elkann, a flamboyant Fiat heir.

Prosecutors reportedly believe 300,000 euros (£263,000) were paid to prevent photos of him being published.

The fresh investigation is said to involve a total of about 20 alleged cases of blackmail.

The targets of the scam include some of Italy's top TV personalities and politicians.

Four people are under investigation, including two photographers, the head of a photo agency, and an entrepreneur involved in public relations, according to Milanese newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Prosecutors are building on an earlier investigation that led to the conviction of one of Italy's most notorious celebrity photographers, Fabrizio Corona.

Recently freed, he is testifying in the new investigation and has suggested that Italians are about to be shocked by a new flood of revelations.

Lapo Elkann previously became headline news in 2005, when he was found in a coma after taking a near-fatal overdose while in the company of a group of transsexuals.

Mr Elkann is a grandson of former Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli.

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