Hollande 'mistress' suing French magazine for privacy invasion
Julie Gayet, the French actress, is pressing charges for “violation of privacy” against the magazine that published photos it said proves she is François Hollande’s mistress, according to French reports.
Mr Hollande has expressed his “total outrage” at the publication in Closer magazine of seven pages of photos showing Miss Gayet arrive at a flat, a stone’s throw from the Elysée, followed by a helmet-clad man on a scooter it said was the president.
At a press conference yesterday, he admitted that he was enduring “painful” times with Valérie Trierweiler, his current partner and de facto First Lady.
But the Socialist president, who has not denied the affair, said he would not be pressing charges for violation of privacy as it would be seen as “double standards” given that he enjoys presidential immunity.
However, according to RTL radio, the 41-year old actress to whom he has reportedly been paying regular nocturnal visits, has decided to take legal action.
Despite the furore over the affair, Miss Gayet’s ex-husband yesterday said she had remained “very calm”.
“It’s obviously not easy. At the same time, she’s very calm about it all and very sure of herself, I think, because there was no fault, no betrayal,” said Santiago Amigorena, an Argentinian writer and father of their two children.
Mr Hollande was also reportedly relaxed and jovial after yesterday’s press conference.
After he dropped in on a group of French journalists still at the Elysée for a debrief, Le Monde said: “He was more amiable that we have seen him for a long time.”
“It was as if political as well as personal adversity were the best kind of fuel for calm”.
Mr Hollande promised to provide “clarification” before a visit to the White House next month in with France’s first couple are due to stay with Barack and Michelle Obama.
And while Mr Hollande’s cabinet ministers were tight-lipped about his amorous escapades, privately some were said to be appalled at his antics.
“He’s behaving like a teenager,” Manuel Valls, his interior minister, is reported to have exclaimed by Le Canard Enchaîné, the satirical and investigative weekly.
Others were reportedly worried about the security risks he had taken. “If a photographer was able to take snaps, a killer could have assassinated him,” one is cited as saying in Le Canard.
In his defence, Mr Hollande told Le Monde he was no more exposed than when Nicolas Sarkozy, his conservative predecessor, went “jogging round the Elysée”.
Mr Sarkozy, who his Socialist rival has often accused of shamelessly exploiting his private life for political gain, has reportedly been gloating over his woes.
“Perhaps this will put an end to all his moralising,” Le Canard quotes him as telling “visitors”.
“With Carla, we tried to quickly make our relationship official because I didn’t want a photo taken one sordid morning or after nightfall,” he is cited as saying.
“If everyone has the right to a private life, when one is a public figure and president, one must be careful to avoid the ridiculous. Well, that photo of Hollande coming out of his mistress’ place with motorbike helmet makes Hollande look totally ridiculous.”
Since the release of Closer’s magazine last week, however, Miss Trierweiler has been admitted to hospital due to “emotional shock” and “serious case of the blues”. Her Elysée spokesman said she could remain there for a week.
News of Miss Gayet’s decision to press charges came as it emerged she has been dropped from a prestigious jury whose members are nominated by the French government — apparently to quash any claims of a conflict of interest.
The actress was due to be on the prestigious Villa Medicis panel, which is charged with selecting 15 residents, artists and creators, who will be chosen to spend up to 18 months at the famous residence, which is home to the French Academy in Rome. Her name was announced officially on Rome’s French Academy website.
But on Wednesday, it was reported that Aurélie Filippetti, the culture minister, had intervened and finally decided not to name Miss Gayet on the jury.
Bernard Cazeneuve, the budget minister, insisted Mr Hollande had played no part in securing her an initial place on the jury. But he then got himself into hot water by accidentally calling Miss Gayet the president’s “companion”, before quickly adding: “She is not his companion. I have nothing to say on the matter.”