French farmer filmed in underpants confronting conservationists wins €10k in privacy claim

A French farmer who became an internet sensation after being pictured storming out of his house in his underpants brandishing a spade to ward off bird conservationists won €10,000 in damages from French television on Wednesday.

French farmer filmed in underpants confronting conservationists wins €10k in privacy claim
France Televisions was ruled to have invaded the farmer's privacy. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

The picture of a furious Jean-Marc Dutouya, clad in only a blue T-shirt and briefs, taking on the bird enthusiasts who sneaked into his cornfield in the southwestern village of Audon inspired a host of memes.

Twitter users dubbed the November 2015 altercation #SlipGate (French for “#UnderpantsGate”) and super-imposed the picture of the angry farmer and hunting enthusiast over several famous images.

Among the mocked-up pictures were Dutouya brandishing his spade in front of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Another replaced the spade with a light sabre.

The confrontation was recorded by a TV crew accompanying journalist and birder Allain Bougrain-Dubourg and fellow members of the League of Bird Protection (LPO) on their mission to destroy traps laid to catch finches.

Despite being a protected species, the birds are still hunted in parts of France.

Dutouya’s mother, who was in her 80s, was shoved during the skirmish while the journalists had the tyres slashed on four vehicles.

Dutouya was fined €400 in 2018 for violence with a weapon.

He in turn sued France Televisions, the public broadcaster which filmed the incident, for violating his privacy.

A court in the southwestern town of Dax awarded him €10,000 euros in damages on Wednesday – a fraction of the €200,000 he sought.

Welcoming the ruling, Dutouya’s lawyer Frederic Dutin said: “Can a man who is at home in his garden be thrown to the wolves in any old fashion? The courts say no.”

The court also ordered France Televisions to pay his legal costs and to blur Dutouya’s image on the footage, Dutin said.

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French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.