FRENCH President Francois Hollande brushed aside questions yesterday about an alleged affair with an actress as he announced reforms to ease the tax burden on business, reduce labour costs and cut public spending.
With more than 500 journalists packed into the Elysee Palace ballroom for a news conference, the Socialist head of state, deeply unpopular with voters, made no mention of the controversy about his private life in a 30-minute introductory speech.
His official partner, Valerie Trierweiler (inset), is in hospital recovering from shock after a celebrity magazine published pictures of what it said was Hollande wearing a motorcyclist's helmet visiting actress Julie Gayet for nocturnal trysts.
"Everyone in their personal life can face trials. That is our case," Hollande said when asked about Trierweiler's future as First Lady.
"These are painful moments. But I have one principle, and that is that personal life should be treated privately, respecting each person's intimacy.
"This is neither the place nor the time to discuss that," Hollande said, adding that he would clarify the issue before a visit to the US next month, on which Trierweiler had been due to accompany him.
Although France does not have an official First Lady title, Trierweiler has her own office in the Elysee and accompanies Hollande on visits.