Paris mayoral candidate drops out over sex video scandal

  • Paris mayoral candidate drops out over sex video scandal
    Benjamin Griveaux, who was standing for party of President Macron, lambasts ‘vile attacks’ Paris mayoral candidate drops out over sex video scandal
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Benjamin Griveaux, who was standing for party of President Macron, lambasts ‘vile attacks’

Emmanuel Macron’s candidate for mayor of Paris in next month’s municipal elections has been forced to stand down after the leak of sexual images and messages online, blaming what he called “vile” attacks on his private life on social media.

Benjamin Griveaux, who was standing for Macron’s governing centrist La République En Marche (LREM) party, made the shock announcement on Friday morning less than 48 hours after the material was first published.

“My family does not deserve this. Nobody should ever be subjected to this kind of abuse,” he said in a statement after a crisis meeting at his Paris campaign headquarters.

“For more than a year, my family and I have been subjected to defamatory remarks, lies, rumours, anonymous attacks, the revelation of stolen private conversations and death threats. As if all this was not enough, yesterday a new level was reached,” Griveaux said.

A video and messages to a young woman purportedly from Griveaux, whose campaign has been struggling against rivals including the current Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, and the former LREM MP Cédric Villani, were published by a website late on Wednesday and then spread to social media.

The 42-year-old former spokesman for Macron’s government and his lawyer wife have three children and he has often mentioned them during his mayoral election campaign. Griveaux said he was not prepared to expose his family any longer. “This is going too far,” he said.

Griveaux was elected to parliament representing LREM in 2017 after Macron became president. His campaign for mayor was central to Macron’s bid to control Paris’s city hall to build a local power base for his party.

A Russian artist living in Paris and reportedly close to the Gilets Jaunes movement told the Libération newspaper he had released the material to “denounce the hypocrisy” of the candidate.

“He (Griveaux) is someone who is always mentioning family values. He said he would be the mayor of Paris families and citing the example of his wife and children, while doing the opposite,” said Pyotr Pavlensky. The artist, who was granted political asylum in France, hit the headlines after setting fire to the Bank of France in Paris in 2017.

Stanislas Geurini, delegate general for LREM said on Friday morning the party would meet to designate a new candidate “in the next few hours”. “We have a collective responsibility to continue to offer our project,” he said

Hidalgo called for people’s private lives to be respected, adding: “Parisians deserve a dignified debate.”

Villani, who is facing moves to expel him from the party for standing against Griveaux, said he sent the former rival and his family “my complete and total support during this difficult time”.

“The attack he has been subject to is a serious threat to our democracy,” Villani tweeted.