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Bruni threatens to sue over website claims

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Bruni threatens to sue over website claims
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. File photo: AFP
09:53 CEST+02:00
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, France's former first lady, has hit back at allegations her personal website benefited from €410,000 of taxpayer's money when her husband was president. Bruni has threatened to sue the creator of a petition that demands she repay the money.

“Imaginary” and “false” is how Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s lawyer described the allegations that the upkeep of her personal website cost the French taxpayer €410,000 over a period of two years while her husband was president.

The allegations are currently the subject of an online petition calling for the former first lady to reimburse the taxpayer the €410,000. Hosted by the petition site change.org, the site had over 76,000 signatures on Monday morning.

The singer-songwriter who is currently promoting her new album, ‘Little French Songs’, has also threatened to file a complaint against the creator of the petition.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Bruni-Sarkozy’s lawyer Richard Malka, said the site in question, carlabrunisarkozy.org “ceased to exist in May 2012” after Nicolas Sarkozy’s electoral defeat to François Hollande.

Furthermore, he added the site did not benefit from a “single cent” from the public funds designated to the Presidency which was “false information” and “imaginary”.

Malka said Bruni would “take legal action against remarks which harm her honour" by suggesting the website, which bears her name, falsely benefited from this money.

The petition was started last Thursday by Nicolas Bousquet, a Paris-based web developer in reaction to a report published in mid-July from the Court of Auditors, which found that Bruni’s website received a total of €410,000 from the state over two years. The site, it claimed, was financed by the presidential budget at a cost of €330,000 in 2011 and €80,000 in 2012.

On the petition’s website, Bousquet describes the cost as “obscene”, estimating that “the site could have been made by anyone for less than €10,000."

This isn’t the first time Bruni’s finances have come under scrutiny.

Earlier in May, the Prime Minister’s office, known as “Matignon” in France, was questioned about the cost of current French first lady Valérie Trierweiler to the state. It revealed that Trierweiler’s five staff cost the state €19,742, around half of what Carla Bruni’s eight assistants cost the taxpayer, which amounted to €36,448 per month.

The allegations in the petition were only the latest expense scandal to hit the Bruni-Sarkozy clan in recent months.

Earlier this year it emerged that former Bruni-Sarkozy’s husband, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy had breached his spending limits during last year’s presidential election campaign. The scandal led to his resignation from France’s highest legal body, the Constitutional Council.

Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate that Nicolas Sarkozy is preparing for a political comeback. Earlier this month, the former President was given a hero's welcome by supporters at crisis talks for his UMP party. Sarkozy, however, denied a comeback, even taking to Twitter to put the rumours to rest.

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