Hollande threatens to sue over claims of secret actress affair

Closer France

President regularly spends the night with actress Julie Gayet in Paris flat, claims Closer magazine

LAST UPDATED AT 15:30 ON Fri 10 Jan 2014

FRENCH president Francois Hollande is considering legal action against a magazine that claimed he was having an affair with French actress Julie Gayet.

France's Closer magazine - which last year published topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge - today features seven pages of revelations and photos about the alleged relationship.

Hollande, 59, is said to routinely spend the night with Gayet, 41, at a flat not far from the Elysee Palace. The magazine has published images purportedly showing the pair arriving at the flat separately on 30 December at night. At 8am the next morning, a man alleged to be the president's bodyguard is shown taking a bag of croissants into the building.

This afternoon the magazine removed the story from its website, even though there was no suggestion that it was untrue.

"Julie Gayet's lawyer contacted us to request we remove from the website all mention of this relationship," said the magazine's editor Laurence Pieau, according to Sky News.

Rumours of the affair had been circulating on the internet for several months, forcing Gayet to issue a statement last year denying the liaison and threatening to sue for breach of privacy over the allegations.

The actress, who has two children with her husband Santiago Amigorena, an Argentinian film director, appeared in a video for Hollande's 2012 election, describing him as "humble" and "formidable".

Hollande - who left Ségolène Royal, a Socialist politician and mother of his four children, seven years ago for his current partner Valerie Trierweiler - had promised to keep his private life out of the headlines while campaigning for the presidency. A statement from his office today said that he "profoundly deplored a breach of the privacy to which he has a right like any citizen" and said he may take legal action against the magazine.

But, as the BBC's Hugh Schofield notes, he does not deny the allegation of an affair.

The reaction in Paris to Closer's article shows how "the wall that once shielded French leaders from media intrusion is crumbling", says The Times.

Previous presidents have managed to keep extra-marital adventures out of the press, it says, while today's allegations were published in newspapers such as Le Figaro and Le Parisien and featured prominently on the websites of TF1, France's most popular television channel. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.