Press watchdog questions libel suit by Royal

8th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 8, 2007 (AFP) - A French press freedom watchdog Thursday called on defeated presidential candidate Segolene Royal to drop a claim for six-figure damages in a libel suit against two political journalists.

PARIS, June 8, 2007 (AFP) - A French press freedom watchdog Thursday called on defeated presidential candidate Segolene Royal to drop a claim for six-figure damages in a libel suit against two political journalists.

Royal and the father of her four children, Socialist party leader Francois Hollande, are jointly suing two Le Monde journalists behind a book claiming their relationship was in crisis and that Royal underwent plastic surgery.

They are asking for 150,000 euros (200,000 dollars) in damages from the authors and publisher of "The Femme Fatale" for violation of privacy and libel.

In a letter to Royal and Hollande, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it recognised the "absolute right" of Royal and Hollande to take legal action if they felt they were the victims of libel.

"However, we find it harder to understand the exorbitant amount of the damages -- 150,000 euros -- sought from the two authors," RSF wrote.
 
"Even though respect for privacy is essential, political figures should bear in mind the specificity of their public status and make sure they do not use the notion abusively."

RSF said it hoped Royal would "reconsider the contents of (her) lawsuit before any trial takes place."

Royal failed in her bid to become France's first woman president when she lost to right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in last's month's election.

In "The Femme Fatale", authors Raphaelle Bacque and Ariane Chemin claim that Royal and Hollande had violent falling-out last year over Royal's candidacy.

It quotes a Socialist MP and friend of the couple saying Hollande threatened to call in former prime minister Lionel Jospin to challenge her for the party nomination.

"She told him 'If you go looking for Jospin to try to stop me, you will never see your children again!'" the MP was quoted as saying.

The suit also focuses on allegations that Royal underwent cosmetic surgery in 2005 to realign her teeth and reshape her chin.

The authors say the book's references to the alleged Royal-Hollande dispute were justified because they had a bearing on the campaign for the presidency.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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