Bruni threatens to sue over website claims

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.

Bruni threatens to sue over website claims
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. File photo: AFP

“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, 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, “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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French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.