French court fines magazines for Hollande snapshots with companion

PARIS (Reuters) - A French court fined two celebrity gossip magazines on Tuesday for publishing photographs of President Francois Hollande and his actress companion at a presidential retreat earlier this year, her lawyer said.

The court found the weeklies VSD and Voici guilty of breach of privacy, fined them 1,500 euros ($1,116 pounds) each and ordered them to print apologies. Gayet had asked for a symbolic euro in damages, which she was granted.

French law is among the most protective of people's right to privacy in Europe and celebrities are routinely awarded damages for publication of paparazzi pictures.

"What's important, is that the court recognised there was a breach of privacy," Gayet's lawyer, Jean Ennochi, told Reuters.

Hollande's once-secret relationship with the 43-year-old actress caused a stir when it was exposed by another magazine at the end of January 2014.

Hollande, 61, previously lived for a period with journalist Valerie Trierweiler after a 25-year relationship with Segolene Royal, now the environment minister in his government.

Five members of Hollande's staff were transferred to other employment locations earlier this year following the publication of what investigators suspect were snapshots secretly taken with a mobile telephone while Hollande, Gayet, relatives and friends spent time together at a presidential retreat near Versailles, west of Paris.

(Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Michel Rose and Tom Heneghan)