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French minister accepted free flights from dictator

Nicolas Sarkozy was under growing pressure yesterday to sack France's foreign minister after it emerged that she had enjoyed the hospitality of a tycoon close to the ousted Tunisian dictator, including trips on his private jet.

Michele Alliot-Marie has admitted that she made errors in accepting favours from the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the former president who fled the country during last month's "jasmine revolution".

The controversy has caused Mr Sarkozy huge embarrassment at a time when he is struggling to salvage French foreign diplomacy's battered credentials and his low approval ratings.

Mr Sarkozy has not commented but an aide told reporters that Ms Alliot-Marie was in jeopardy: "It stinks. I can't see how she can stay put."

Ms Alliot-Marie (64) has admitted to taking two flights in a private plane at the invitation of Aziz Miled during a holiday in December. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent