The outspoken former justice minister, Rachida Dati, has denied she is in a relationship with the French actor Vincent Lindon after a weekly gossip magazine published photos of them together.

"/> The outspoken former justice minister, Rachida Dati, has denied she is in a relationship with the French actor Vincent Lindon after a weekly gossip magazine published photos of them together.

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OFFBEAT

Former minister denies affair with actor

The outspoken former justice minister, Rachida Dati, has denied she is in a relationship with the French actor Vincent Lindon after a weekly gossip magazine published photos of them together.

Former minister denies affair with actor
Simon Kirby

Dati was speaking on the television discussion programme, Le Grand Journal, when she gave the denial.

“There’s nothing in these photos,” she said. “If I was in love every time I had dinner with someone, I’d be in love quite a lot!”

The unmarried former minister, who also serves as mayor of Paris’ chic 7th arrondissement, has always maintained strict control over details of her private life.

In January 2009 she gave birth to a daughter, Zohra, but has never revealed the identity of the girl’s father.

She caused even more surprise when she returned to work just five days after her daughter’s birth.

Vincent Lindon is a well-known French film actor. He starred in the well-received 2011 film “Pater” in which he played a French prime minister.

French media tends to hold back from prying too deeply into the private lives of its politicians and celebrities, yet recently there has been a tendency for greater openness.

On the same programme last week, the singer and actress Vanessa Paradis was herself asked directly about rumours of marital difficulties with her husband Johnny Depp. Paradis denied there were any problems in their marriage.

Rachida Dati served as justice minister for two years until she was moved in 2009. As well as her duties as mayor she also represents the Ile-de-France region in the European Parliament. 

Dati was the first child of north African immigrant parents to hold high office in the French government.

She has made no secret of her ambition to enter the French parliament in parliamentary elections due in June.

She was disappointed at the weekend when reports circulated that two Parisian constituencies she had her eye on had been given to other politicians. However, she said she is still “determined” to be a candidate in the elections.

 


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OFFBEAT

France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.

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