Designer Galliano in legal battle with lawyers

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Fashion designer John Galliano, facing trial for a drunken anti-Semitic rant, is suing his former lawyers for embezzlement and is being counter-sued for defamation, the two sides' legal teams said Friday.

"John Galliano brought a complaint on April 13 for aggravated breach of trust against his former legal counsel" Stephane Zerbib, Galliano's lawyer Aurelien Hamelle told AFP.

Galliano, 50, the former chief designer at the Dior label, accuses Zerbib of embezzling nearly three million euros ($4.4 million) from his own account and one of his companies, a source close to the case said.

Zerbib's own lawyer Emma Lapijower told AFP meanwhile that Zerbib plans to sue Galliano in turn for defamation over the allegation.

Galliano formerly hired Zerbib to run a company managing the rights to the designer's image and gave him control of his accounts, Europe 1 radio reported.

The Gibraltar-born, London-raised couturier faces up to six months in prison and a fine of 22,500 euros for allegedly making racist and anti-Semitic remarks to a couple at a Paris cafe in late February.

A court will rule on May 12 when he is to go on trial -- possibly in the coming months.

Galliano was fired early this month by Dior over the complaint and a subsequent mobile phone video showing him, apparently drunk at the same cafe, saying: "I love Hitler."

© 2011 AFP

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