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2022 FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Far-right French presidential candidate ‘forgot to pay at grocery store’

The French TV pundit turned far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour has been hit with a campaign scandal when a magazine reported that he walked out of a posh Paris grocery store without paying for his purchases.

Far-right French presidential candidate 'forgot to pay at grocery store'
Photo: Eric Piermont / AFP

French satirical magazine Le Canard enchaîné has reported that on Sunday, February 27th, Zemmour, accompanied by a security officer, left a Bon Marché store in the capital without paying for €38.80 worth of groceries he had scanned at an automatic checkout.

Le Canard enchaîné reported that the discrepancy in till receipts was only noticed at the end of the day, and Zemmour was identified as the non-paying customer. Contacted via his campaign office the following day, the presidential hopeful sent a security officer to cover the cost of the bill.

Zemmour tried to laugh off the incident as a one-off error. 

“I simply forgot to pay,” he told Le Canard enchaîné. “I left like that. The next day, one of the officers in charge of my security went to pay the €38 and some. I reimbursed my officer by giving him €40 and telling him to keep the change.”

But newspaper, often regarded as the French version of Private Eye, pointed out that Zemmour had been stopped by a security guard at a La Grande Epicerie store in 2021, having forgotten to pay for his shopping.

Zemmour this week finally got the required signatures of sponsorship to stand in the first round of voting in April’s Presidential election – but his poll numbers have suffered a drop in recent days. He has been an outspoken admirer of Russian president Vladimir Putin and has lamented in the past that France does not have ‘its own Putin’.

READ ALSO 5 things you didn’t know about Eric Zemmour

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POLITICS

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.

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