French president comes down hard on magazine that reported alleged affair

Grae Stafford Freelance Photographer
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French President Francois Hollande is allegedly having an affair, and he would really rather no one would report about it.

He is so concerned about that fact that he is considering suing the French tabloid Closer Magazine for reporting it. Under pressure from lawyers of the president’s alleged lover, Closer agreed to yank the story from its website Friday. The print version, however, will not be withdrawn.

The magazine ran a seven-page story on Friday morning both online and in its print edition detailing its investigation, which included pictures of a man it claimed to be Hollande arriving at a Paris apartment. Closer also published photos of a woman it identifies as 41-year-old actress Julie Gayet. Hollande’s body guard reportedly brought the two croissants the morning after, and the two left separately.

“Around New Year’s Day, a helmeted head of state joined the actress at her apartment, where he has got into the habit of spending the night,” Closer reported.

(The pictures are available to download here)

The “surprising images” “raise a question about the security of the president,” Closer’s editor Laurence Pieau told the BBC, given that Hollande was only being protected by a single bodyguard.

Pieau told Europe Radio 1 that the pictures should not be “over-dramatised,” and that Hollande was a “normal president” “who has a crush.”

Gayet, who has appeared in many French films and also one of President Hollande’s election commercials, has done her utmost to gag rumors of an affair in the past, including filing complaints against bloggers and websites that were reporting the rumors.

The BBC, in a service to journalism and motivated in no part by over a thousand years of Anglo-French cross-channel bickering, reports, “Rumors of their alleged relationship have been circulating on the internet for many months.”

The BBC also cheerfully pointed out that the location where the trysts have allegedly been taking place is no more than 100 yards from the Elysee Palace.

Hollande, speaking to AFP, said “[he] like every other citizen has a right to privacy” and that he is “looking into possible action, including legal action” against the tabloid.

France is notorious for having very strict privacy laws that Closer has crashed headlong into in the past. In 2012, the tabloid published photos of Kate Middleton topless while on vacation in France. Pieau and two photographers were charged in conjunction with that incident.

The French political elite have a history of extra marital relations. He left the mother of his four children, socialist politician Segolene Royal, in 2007 after 30 years to be with journalist Valerie Trierweiler.

Former President Jacques Chirac famously confessed, “There have been women I have loved a lot, as discreetly as possible.”

But they all pale in comparison to former President Francois Mitterand, who had a secret mistress and a secret daughter throughout most of his presidency, and included them in his state funeral when he died in 1995.

Hollande was intending to use January to boost his flagging popularity ratings, but that appears to have been stopped in its tracks by the latest revelations.

Hollande currently hovers around 15-percent approval as France continues to be wracked by the crippling effects of the 2008 financial crash on its bloated public sector-based economy.

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