French court delivers ‘totally bonkers’ ruling on Le Pen

Jean-Marie Le Pen remains banned from the National Front party he founded for remarks about the Holocaust but he must remain as honorary president and the far-right party must pay him compensation.

French court delivers 'totally bonkers' ruling on Le Pen
Photo: AFP

A French court on Thursday upheld the exclusion of Jean-Marie Le Pen from the far-right National Front (FN) by his daughter
Marine for repeated inflammatory remarks about the Holocaust.

Le Pen was booted out of the party he founded last year for reiterating his view that the Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” of history and defending France's collaborationist wartime Vichy regime

FN leader Marine Le Pen, who has her eye on the French presidency in next year's elections, disavowed her 88-year-old father, accusing him of “political suicide”.

The court in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre upheld the FN's decision to strip him of his membership.

But in a small victory for the elder Le Pen it ruled he should be allowed to remain as the party's honorary president.

As such, the party is required to invite him to all its leadership meetings, failing which it faces a fine, the judges ruled.

The FN was also ordered to pay the party's founder 15,000 euros ($16,000) in damages for preventing him from carrying out his functions of honorary president over the past year.

Marine Le Pen reacted angrily to the decision, telling reporters it was “complete nonsense”.

“So you can remain honorary president of a party without being a member of it, and maybe even while being a member of another party,” she fumed.

Le Pen senior deeply resented being shown the door by Marine, who has been on a drive to purge the party of its anti-Semitic and racist image since taking over the reins in 2011.

He has accused his daughter of “abandoning” the party's grassroots, even though the FN continues to take a hard line on immigration, security and Islam.

But he took heart from Donald Trump's election in the US, seeing it as a sign Marine Le Pen could be France's next president.

“Today, the United States, tomorrow France. Bravo America!” he tweeted a day after the US vote.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


France’s far-right patriarch refused questioning in EU fraud case

Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France's far-right National Front party, refused to submit to police questioning last month as part of an EU funding inquiry, claiming immunity as a European Parliament lawmaker, his adviser said Sunday.

France's far-right patriarch refused questioning in EU fraud case

Le Pen is one of several party MEPs suspected of using European Parliament funds provided for assistants to pay more than 20 France-based party staff.

If convicted, the party could be ordered to repay €7 million ($8.2 million), and the judges pre-emptively seized the subsidies.

An EU tribunal has already determined that Le Pen must reimburse €320,000.

But when police from France's anti-corruption squad tried to question him last month at his office just outside Paris, he claimed MEP immunity and ordered them to leave.

“He was prepared to receive them, but they had such arrogant attitudes which Jean-Marie Le Pen refused to accept,” his adviser Lorrain de Saint Affrique told AFP, confirming a report in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Le Pen, 90, sits as an independent after being thrown out of his party by his daughter Marine Le Pen in 2015 for saying the Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” of history.

He has also often made disparaging statements against Muslims and Roma which have earned him a string of hate speech convictions.

His daughter has renamed the party the National Rally in an effort to shed its xenophobic and anti-Semitic image.

The EU funding inquiry has led French judges to withhold €2 million of public subsidies for the party, a move which Marine Le Pen has denounced as a “death sentence”.

Without the funds, she warns the party will be bankrupt by September.