French presenter guilty in kiss and tell case
France's best-known TV newsreader was found guilty yesterday of breaching his former mistress's privacy for publishing her love letters, after a court ruled it could not be qualified as fiction.
Patrick Poivre d'Arvor (63), whose evening news broadcasts were regularly watched by eight million people until he was sacked in 2008, was ordered to pay €33,000 to Agathe Borne (38), a former model and aspiring writer.
The Paris court found Poivre d'Arvor's 2009 novel 'Fragments of a Lost Woman' was an undisguised account of their two-year relationship, which began in 2006.
It was thus a breach of privacy and literary theft.
Ms Borne had insisted that he wrote the tome as vengeful "punishment for her daring to leave him" to return to her husband and two children in 2008.
"He decided to humiliate her by speaking about her sexuality and painting a highly unfair, degrading portrait but credible to readers," said Nathalie Dubois, her lawyer.
"Overcome by shame," she said her client felt forced to leave France with her family for America. PPDA, as the French call him, had claimed the "break-up occurred in June 2009 at his initiative".
The court found that eight chapters were almost word-for-word copies of Ms Borne's correspondence. She was particularly furious at the publication of 11 of her letters to him, along with text messages.
"Your skin and your smell obsess me," wrote Ms Borne, whose name is changed to Violette in the book. A later entry reads: "Have you not felt my blood flowing under my skin?"
Poivre d'Arvor had insisted that Ms Borne had read and approved a draft version.
But the court's view was unequivocal. "The literary procedures used do not allow the reader to differentiate the characters from reality, such that the work cannot be qualified as fictional," it said.
Besides the letters, it pointed to numerous details taken from reality, including the death of her youngest sister at an early age.
Other more intimate passages considered a breach of her privacy included undressing for an older man for €5,000, and having two miscarriages and three abortions in two years.
Besides a fine, the court ordered Poivre d'Arvor to publicise the verdict in two magazines and imposed a ban on reprints of the book.
He can appeal the verdict. (© Daily Telegraph, London)