French minister Nicolas Hulot denies harassment allegations


French Minister of the Ecological and Social Transition Nicolas Hulot leaves the Elysee Palace following the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris on 8 February 2018Image copyright

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Mr Hulot has described the rumours of sexual harassment as “shameful”

A minister in French President Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet has denied rumours of sexual harassment, two weeks after another was accused of rape.

Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, one of Mr Macron’s most popular cabinet members, rejects any wrongdoing.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has offered his support, saying there was “no reason to doubt his words”.

Last month, prosecutors reopened an inquiry into rape allegations against Budget Minister Gérald Darmanin.

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Mr Darmanin also denies separate allegations against him

A woman described as a former call girl accuses him of pressuring her into sex in 2009 in exchange for helping her clear her name in a legal dispute.

Mr Darmanin’s lawyers have accused her of a “crude attempt to harm” the minister’s reputation and said he was suing her for slander.

A conservative politician with working-class roots, Mr Darmanin was expelled from the centre-right Republicans party last year for joining Mr Macron’s Republic on the Move movement.

No judicial investigation

Some of the allegations against Mr Hulot are due to be published in a French magazine on Friday, but he has been the subject of rumours for some weeks.

The environment minister was questioned by BFMTV on Thursday about accusations from “the grand-daughter of a famous politician” dating back to 1997. Mr Hulot admitted the woman had filed a complaint in 2008, but said that the case had been dismissed.

“I was questioned at my own request and investigators very quickly concluded that there was nothing suggesting the case should be followed up,” he said.

“It hurts, when it’s wrongful and unfounded. Yesterday, my children were in tears,” Mr Hulot told the channel, describing the situation as “a nightmare” and the rumours as “shameful”.

Mr Philippe said Mr Hulot was not expected to resign as he had not been placed under judicial investigation.

Mr Hulot also denied suggestions that a former colleague had accused him of harassment.

“The worst thing is that she has already been questioned by some of your colleagues and she gave the same answer,” he told BFMTV.

The well-known presenter of a popular TV adventure programme, Mr Hulot has campaigned for environmental protection for decades and was brought into the cabinet from outside politics after Mr Macron’s election in May.

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