French court: Kate Middleton topless photos to be turned over to her

In a victory for Britain's royal family, a French court ordered that published photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing topless be handed over to her and her husband, Prince William, within 24 hours
PARIS -- In a victory for Britain's royal family, a French court Tuesday ordered that published photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing topless be handed over to her and her husband, Prince William, within 24 hours.

The court also said the glossy celebrity magazine that published the pictures, Closer, would be fined $13,000 every time it republished or distributed the offending images.

The royal couple was said to have been "profoundly shocked and troubled" by the photos of them vacationing in the south of France at a secluded villa belonging to a relative of the prince. They had demanded that the pictures be turned over to them after what they called a "grotesque" invasion of their privacy.

They asked the court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre to order the magazine to remove the pictures from its website and ban Closer from republishing them under threat of punitive fines.

At a hastily arranged hearing Monday, the lawyer for Closer, Delphine Pando, argued that the controversy raging over the pictures was a "disproportionate response" to an "ordinary scene."

However, Aurelien Hammelle, the lawyer for the royal couple insisted that the pictures were "profoundly intimate" and "shocking." Applying for an immediate injunction, he reminded the panel of three judges Monday that the photos had been taken on Sept. 5, almost 15 years to the day that William's mother, Princess Diana, had died in a "morbid, cynical and pointless chase" by paparazzi in Paris.

Hammelle asked that the magazine hand over the equipment on which the digital photos were stored and that the images be banned from sale in France or abroad.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as William and his wife are known, have also filed a criminal complaint under France's privacy laws, which could see Closer fined tens of thousands of dollars and its editor serve up to a year in prison. They also filed a complaint against "persons unknown," referring to the photographer, who has not yet been identified.

Hammelle told the civil hearing at the Tribunal de Grand Instance in Nanterre that the photos revealed "particularly simple and deeply intimate moments in the life of this couple that have no reason to be on a magazine cover."

"In the name of what did Closer publish these 'shock' photos? Certainly not in the name of information," Hammelle said. "The Duchess of Cambridge is a young woman, not an object ... and I ask you to put yourself in the place of her husband, Prince William, ... and the place of her parents."

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Photo: Britain's Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, on a royal visit Tuesday to the South Pacific. Credit: Tony Prcevich / AFP/Getty Images


World powers to meet with Iran on gridlocked nuclear talks

Ashton

The six world powers that have been trying to come to an agreement with Iran over its disputed nuclear program are having a face-to-face meeting Tuesday with Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator -- but not because there’s been any progress toward a deal.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief and the point person for the six powers group, will meet Tuesday in Istanbul, Turkey, with Iran's Saeed Jalili to discuss the status of their gridlocked talks, diplomats said.

More specifically, Ashton will ask Jalili whether Iran is ready to replace its earlier proposal -- termed a “nonstarter” by the United States -- with an offer that might finally get talks moving.

“This is a chance for Lady Ashton … to see what the Iranians are thinking,” Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman, told reporters. “We’re going the extra mile to offer them a face-to-face meeting to see what’s up.”

In discussions last spring, Iran said it would agree to halt production of its medium-enriched uranium if the six countries would recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium to a low level, and would grant the Islamic Republic relief from sanctions. But the offer fell far short of the demands of the six countries -- Britain, France, Germany, United States, Russia and China.

The group’s political directors made no progress with Iran at their last meeting, held in Moscow in June. Since then, the two sides have held lower-level technical meetings. But diplomats said the lower-level meetings haven’t brought the two sides closer together.

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Secret files show British police covered up bungling in 1989 deaths

Prime minister apologizes for cover-up 1989 soccer deaths
LONDON — Victims of Britain’s worst-ever sporting disaster received an official apology and a measure of vindication Wednesday after the release of secret files showing that police tried to cover up their bungled response by shifting blame onto the 96 people who lost their lives in an overcrowded soccer stadium 23 years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of pages of documents contain evidence that authorities systematically deflected attention from their own failings by smearing the reputations of those who died at the Hillsborough stadium, in the city of Sheffield, on April 15, 1989. Most of the victims, fans of the Liverpool team, were crushed to death in a standing-only section that was already full when police herded more spectators into the fenced-in enclosure.

The tragedy, and photos of clearly suffering victims squeezed against the metal fence, stunned Britain. Shock turned to disgust amid reports that many of the victims were drunk, had histories of violent behavior and even urinated on officers and medical personnel who were helping the injured.

But those reports turned out to be false, part of a deliberate disinformation campaign by the South Yorkshire police force. In fact, the police themselves and the emergency services showed poor coordination and mounted an inadequate and delayed response to the unfolding catastrophe, according to a report by an independent panel that studied the newly released files.

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Bones found in hunt for King Richard III's remains

Richard-digLONDON -- Is now the summer of his disinterment?

Archaeologists digging in central England for the remains of Richard III, the king immortalized as a murderous tyrant by William Shakespeare, have found bones that in many ways match his profile –- literally.

The University of Leicester, which is spearheading the search, said Wednesday its team of archaeologists had unearthed the skeleton of an adult male bearing signs of possible battle wounds and of a severe curvature of the spine that would have made one of the man’s shoulders appear much higher than the other.

Richard was the last English monarch to die in battle, in 1485, at Bosworth Field against his successor, Henry VII. Described as “deform’d” by Shakespeare, he was buried without pomp in a medieval friary in Leicester.

Working over the last three weeks in a small downtown parking lot, archaeologists discovered the ruins of what appears to have been the friary, with the bones in a spot at the east end of the church, where scholars believe Richard was entombed.

Richard Taylor, a spokesman for the university, said the skeleton bore evidence of major trauma.
“A bladed implement appears to have cleaved part of the rear of the skull,” Taylor said. “A barbed metal arrowhead was found between the vertebrae of the skeleton’s upper back.”

The spine showed signs of “severe scoliosis,” causing the person’s right shoulder to look higher than the left, an abnormality “consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard’s appearance,” Taylor said. It would not, however, have made him a hunchback, as many actors have portrayed the character in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

The bones have been sent to a lab for DNA analysis, to be compared against a sample from a man believed to be a present-day descendant of one of Richard’s sisters.

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Photo: Archaeologist Mathew Morris of the University of Leicester at the site in central England on Wednesday where a skeleton that researchers believe could be King Richard III was found. Credit: Gavin Fogg / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images


Search for grave of King Richard III to be extended

Searching for grave of King Richard III
This post has been updated. See the note below.

LONDON –- Archaeologists searching for the tomb of Richard III are being given an extra week to excavate in light of promising findings of their dig beneath a parking lot in central England.

The medieval king made famous as a villain in Shakespeare’s play was buried in the city of Leicester after his death in battle against his successor, Henry VII, at Bosworth Field in 1485. Franciscan brothers interred Richard without ceremony in a friary whose location has been lost over the
centuries.

But based on a recent analysis of old maps, experts began looking for the site beneath a small municipal parking lot in downtown Leicester two weeks ago. The dig was scheduled to wrap up Sunday, but lead archaeologist Richard Buckley said city officials had granted a week’s extension.

"Things are going extremely well, and we are now confident that we have located the east end of the church, so identifying the quire is becoming a real possibility,” said Buckley, referring to an area near the church’s likely altar.

He and other scholars speculate that Richard would have been entombed close to the altar in homage to his exalted status.

[Updated 12:52 p.m. Sept. 9: So far, Buckley's team has discovered the ruins of what could be the walls of the old friary, the fragments of a frame that might have contained the east window, some medieval floor tiles and a silver coin from that era.

After digging three 6-foot-deep trenches, archaeologists also found vestiges of the garden of a manor house that stood on the site after the friary was demolished. Records show that a pillar in the garden once marked the spot where Richard was thought to be buried.]

Finding his bones would lay to rest a mystery surrounding what became of the remains of the last English king to die in battle. The usurpation of Richard III ushered in the Tudor dynasty and eventually led to Shakespeare’s indelible –- some say wildly inaccurate -– portrayal of Richard as a ruthless fiend
who ordered his innocent young nephews killed in the Tower of London so that he could take the throne.

Two years ago, scholars announced that they had identified the site of Bosworth Field, where Richard lost his crown and his life on Aug. 22, 1485. After the battle, the slain king’s broken body was paraded through Leicester, then buried by the Franciscans.

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Photo: An archaeologist prepares to excavate at a parking lot in the central English city of Leicester, where King Richard III is believed to be buried, as actors dressed as knights look on. Credit: Rui Vieira / Associated Press


Must Reads: Cash crunch, bikes and a Russian battlefield

Bike

From doing battle over Russian cottages to biking to freedom in a Brazilian prison, here are five stories you shouldn't miss from this last week in global news:

Brazil prisoners ride bikes toward prison reform

Archaeologists hope to unearth some Richard III mysteries

Russia's historic Borodino battlefield is in war with cottages

Palestinian Authority faces cash crunch, raising risk of unrest

Egypt town's Muslim-Christian unrest speaks to bigger challenges

-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: An inmate pedals a stationary bike to charge a battery at a prison in Santa Rita do Sapucai, Brazil. Credit: Felipe Dana / Associated Press


Rebekah Brooks appears in court on phone-hacking charges

Rebekah Brooks appears in court on phone-hacking charges
LONDON -- Rebekah Brooks, former News International executive and editor of the now defunct Murdoch-owned tabloid News of the World, appeared in court Monday to hear three charges against her relating to illegal phone hacking.

Brooks, 44, was charged earlier this year along with a private investigator and seven other executives, editors and journalists of the paper. The group was charged with conspiring to hack into the phones of 600 potential victims.

In Brooks’ case she faces two more specific charges of hacking into the phones of murdered teenager Milly Dowler who died in March 2003, and of Andy Gilchrist, a former militant leader of the Fire Brigades Union who lead a controversial firefighters’ strike in 2002. She has denied the charges.

Brooks, wearing a short-skirted dark suit, made no comment as she walked to and from Westminster Magistrates court in central London. Throughout the brief hearing she listened in silence as presiding judge Howard Riddle Brooks read out the three charges.  

Her seven former colleagues who appeared in court last month, included Andy Coulson, former chief press officer to Prime Minister David Cameron, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator.

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Ex-Murdoch media legal executive arrested in British hacking case

LONDON -- Police have arrested Tom Crone, a former legal executive in the Murdoch-owned News International group, the latest to be apprehended in connection with ongoing investigations into illegal phone hacking. 

In a brief statement, Scotland Yard announced the arrest Thursday of a “60-year-old man ... on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications" as part their inquiry “into the hacking of telephone voicemail boxes.”  He was taken for questioning to a London police station.

Crone was a senior member in the legal department of News International, News Corp.’s British media branch, with responsibility for the legal affairs of News of the World.  He quit after revelations in July 2011 that the paper’s reporters had paid private investigators to illegally hack into the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler in 2009, prompting myriad judicial, civil and political inquiries.

Questioned by a panel of lawmakers last year, Crone claimed he was “pretty sure” that in 2008 he had informed James Murdoch, then-News International executive chairman, of suspected widespread phone hacking within News International papers and that it went beyond one or two "rogue reporters" including Clive Goodman, jailed in 2007 for hacking into phones of the British royal family.  James Murdoch subsequently denied being informed of this.  

Crone also said he advised James Murdoch in 2008 to stave off a threatened lawsuit by paying almost a million dollars to soccer executive Gordon Taylor who claimed his phone had been hacked by NI journalists.

In a statement in April, Crone rejected evidence provided by Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman, implying that Crone was responsible for what Murdoch termed a "culture of cover-up" of phone hacking within the company. He called it a "shameful lie."

More than 70 phone- and computer-hacking-related arrests have been made in three different police operations.   Most of those nabbed have been media executives and journalists later released on bail. Eight have been charged with hacking-related offenses, including Andy Coulson, former media advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, and Rebekah Brooks, former News International executive.

Crone’s arrest comes a day after former London Times writer Patrick Foster, 29, was taken into custody on suspicion of computer hacking, the first journalist to be targeted from the flagship Murdoch daily.

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Police arrest ex-London Times journalist in computer hacking case

LONDON -- Police arrested a former London Times journalist, named by the British press as 28-year-old Patrick Foster, Wednesday morning on suspicion of illegal computer hacking. 

The arrest is the latest in ongoing investigations into phone hacking-related crimes which began last July, after revelations of illegal hacking into the cellphone of a murdered teenager by the popular tabloid the News of World caused public outrage.

Police said the arrest “for suspected offenses under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and suspected conspiracy to pervert the course of justice,” was part of their “investigation into criminal breaches
of privacy, including computer hacking which is being carried out in conjunction with MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] phone-hacking inquiries.”

One of several arrests following the News of the World exposure and subsequent judicial investigations among employees of News International, the British subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and other tabloid papers, it is the first to strike the Murdoch's flagship daily, The Times.

Press reports said ex-Times home affairs writer Foster was arrested on suspicion of using illegal email hacking to expose the identity of a police blogger known as Night Jack in 2009. The police statement says the arrested man "is being questioned at a North London police station about alleged computer hacking relating to the identification of a previously anonymous blogger in 2009."

In a court case brought against the Times by Richard Horton, a police officer revealed
by Foster as the author of the award-winning Night Jack blog, which recounted the day-to-day realities of police work, Foster’s evidence disguised the fact he originally discovered Horton’s identity by hacking into his email.

Before his exposure, Horton lost a plea for an injunction to protect his identity resulting in his outing by the Times, the judge ruling he had been exposed by legitimate means.

The Leveson inquiry, a judge-led civil investigation that is one of the several probes into media practices opened last summer, heard from Times editorial and legal representatives this year that they were aware of but ignored the real origins of Foster’s disclosure of Horton’s identity. 

The Leveson inquiry is expected to file its findings in coming weeks, after a year’s questioning of
media and media-related figures.  


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Prince Harry photos: British tabloids shy away from royal skin

British media steers clear of nude photos of Prince Harry

This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

British tabloids have held off on splashing nude photos of Prince Harry cavorting in a Las Vegas hotel room across their pages, resorting to staged photos and other shots to cover the story.

The British press is hardly known for its restraint with royal skin: Sarah Ferguson was once snapped sunbathing topless with an American businessman while separated from her husband. Nude photos of her ex, Prince Andrew, have also turned up in British tabloids.

But in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that has eight former News of the World employees facing criminal charges and Britain weighing firmer regulations on the press, British media outlets appear to be more circumspect in exposing the prince -- or perhaps just more skittish about running afoul of the law.

Newspapers were said to be warned that running the nude shots could land them in court for invading his privacy, because the racy photos were taken in a private hotel room before being leaked to gossip site TMZ.

“Farcically British websites, newspapers and television stations were prevented from reproducing them after Prince Charles instructed lawyers to threaten legal action for infringing Prince Harry’s ‘privacy,’” the Daily Mail huffed.

The naked photos weren’t actually banned: Royal officials sent a letter to the watchdog Press Complaints Commission asking them to advise newspapers not to run the images. The commission then passed their concerns on to newspapers, without taking a stand on whether to print them.

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