Hollande fires police chiefs to undo Sarkozy's 'security apparatus'
Francois Hollande brought Nicolas Sarkozy's decade-long grip over France's security apparatus to a high-profile end yesterday, firing the country's three top police and intelligence chiefs seen as unflinchingly loyal to their former boss.
Bernard Squarcini (56), head of France's domestic intelligence agency, DCRI; Frederic Pechenard (53), France's top police official; and Michel Gaudin (63), Paris's police chief, were all relieved of their duties during a council of ministers meeting three weeks after Mr Hollande's election.
During his campaign, Mr Hollande claimed that his predecessor had created a clan of loyalists to his right-wing UMP party in the police and security services tantamount to a "UMP state".
Nicknamed "The Shark", the Corsican Mr Squarcini was renowned as one of Mr Sarkozy's most trusted men, once remarking: "If the president asks me to re-upholster the tapestry of Fort Bregancon (the presidential country retreat), I'll do it."
He is under investigation for illegally spying on a 'Le Monde' journalist investigating the Bettencourt affair, in which the l'Oreal heiress is suspected of tax evasion and making illicit cash donations to Mr Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign. He denies wrongdoing. The "French FBI" he ran notably conducted an investigation into those who had initiated rumours that Mr Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy were both having affairs. (© Daily Telegraph, London)