Snapper’s slander bags million for homeless man

A former homeless man has won €1 million in court after suing legendary society photographer and one-time Liliane Bettencourt heir François Marie Banier, who accused him of homophobia.

Snapper's slander bags million for homeless man
Photo: Audrey Ait Kheddache

Michel Baldy, now an apartment block caretaker, took Banier to court after he wrongly accused Baldy of homophobia.

The pair first met last year, when Baldy was homeless and living on the Champs Elysée in Paris.

Banier – also a novelist, artist and actor, and a friend of luminaries including Pablo Picasso, François Mitterand, Kate Moss and Princess Caroline of Monaco – took a photo of Baldy without his permission. When he was asked to delete the photo, he reportedly said “shut your face, bum,” and took a swipe at the homeless man.

The photographer then reported Baldy to the police for homophobia and violence – at the hearing Baldy was acquitted of accusations of homophobia, and decided to sue for slander.

Baldy has since spoken of how he has never forgiven Banier for the humiliation caused after the accusation.

“I was already living on the streets, but with this it was like I didn’t exist at all. I was shattered,” said Baldy to radio station RTL.

“I hope that with this court case, Banier rectifies what he has done, and that he says that I never threatened him and I’m not homophobic.

“It’s clear he didn’t behave how he should have. For a photographer, it’s clear.”

Banier has previously been in the limelight for his relationship with L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who made him the sole beneficiary of her will, before later removing him.

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The shocking stats that reveal the increasing number of homeless people dying in France

The number of homeless people dying in France has increased sharply with women and children among those who perish on the country's streets. These new figures reveal the extent of the problem.

The shocking stats that reveal the increasing number of homeless people dying in France
Photo: AFP


This is the official total for the number of homeless people who died in France in 2018, according to a new report by the French charity Morts de la Rue.

The figure represents those living either on the streets or in emergency shelters or unofficial squats in the months before they die. Some 20 percent of victims have been SDF (sans domicile fixe or homeless) for five years before their death.

In reality the real number is likely to be far higher. In fact health authorities in France suggest the true total could be as much as six times higher.

It can often be hard to determine an exact cause of death. Many homeless people suffer from illnesses and some 30 percent are addicted to alcohol or drugs. The suicide rate among homeless people is higher than average and violent attacks and accidents are also behind some of the deaths.

19 percent

This represents the percentage increase in the number of deaths between 2018 and 2017, when there were 511 recorded deaths of homeless people.

That represents the biggest jump in recent years but the number of deaths have been steadily rising since 2013 when there were 461 recorded.

50 percent

According to Morts de la Rue, 50 percent of the homeless people who die do so “before our eyes”, in other words on the streets in full view of the public.


That's the average age of the homeless men who died last year, well below France's average life expectancy which currently stands at 82 years.

14 percent

Some 14 percent of those homeless people who die are from around Europe. Indeed less than half are French, according to stats from Morts de la Rue.

Some 20 percent of victims are from outside the EU and 25 percent are registered as “unknown origin”.


The number of those who die on the streets of France or in shelters also include minors. Last year there were 13 homeless people who died under the age of 18.

90 percent

While 90 percent of the victims are men, there are an increasing number of women. 

“Homeless women are often invisible, face particular difficulties related to gender, and suffer from violence during their life on the street,” said the authors of the study.
Between 2013 and 2018, 280 homeless women died at an average age of just over 46 years old. That number included 24 young women including children under the age of nine. One third of those homeless women who died were mothers with young children.
So what needs to be done?
As part of his presidential election campaign Emmanuel Macron promised to provide a roof over the head of every single person in France. But the government has a lot of work to do before his promise is fulfilled.
Nevertheless the charity Morts de la Rue insists “a home for everyone” must be the ultimate goal for authorities.
“Having a place to live is vital,” say Morts de la Rue.
“We can see that the impact on people of their time spent on the streets – mostly the effect on their physical and mental health which makes reintegration more difficult and even impossible over time,” the study said.
But in the meantime the charity is demanding a new major government study into homelessness. The last one carried out by the state's statistics agency INSEE was back in 2012.
The charity also insists that there must be consistency in the emergency accommodation offered to homeless people, whether it's the night shelters or the temporary homeless accommodation that opens in the winter months but closes in the spring.
Homeless people must be offered shelter all year round, the charity says, to provide them with a base and some stability.
Homeless people also need to be followed more closely by health and social agencies especially after they have spent time in hospital. Often they are not offered any help at vital times such as the period between leaving hospital and waiting to being given temporary accommodation in a shelter.
Police and the courts also need to be made much more aware of the impact of domestic violence on women.
“If they are better protected, they will not be forced to flee their own homes to escape the violence that they endure,” added Morts de la Rue.