French President Emmanuel Macron suffered a setback yesterday when one of his closest lieutenants, Benjamin Griveaux, pulled out of the race to become mayor of Paris after it was alleged he sent sexual images to a woman who is not his wife.
"I have decided to withdraw my candidacy from the municipal election," Mr Griveaux said in a video statement.
He said he and his family had been subjected to months of anonymous statements defaming him, and threats to disclose private conversations stolen from him. A new level was reached on Thursday with "websites and social networks carrying ignoble attacks about my private life", he said.
A Russian dissident artist, Pyotr Pavlensky, published screenshots of an online chat which he said was between Mr Griveaux and a woman who is not his wife and exposed his "hypocrisy".
The chat included a video showing a man's genitals. Mr Griveaux has not disputed that he sent the messages.
Mr Griveaux (42) is one of the "Macron boys" - the clique that helped propel the former banker to the Élysée Palace. He is a former adviser to former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn.