PARIS:The former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has been accused of sexual harassment in a legal complaint lodged by a German journalist.
Ann-Kathrin Stracke claims VGE, as he is known, repeatedly touched her bottom during an interview at his office on Boulevard Saint-Germain, in Paris, at the end of 2018. She lodged a complaint on 10 March with the Paris public prosecutor’s office.
Stracke interviewed the ex-president, who was at the Élysée Palace between 1974 and 1981, for the German public television channel WDR to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor who died in 2015 and was in power when VGE was president.
At the end of the meeting, in December 2018, the journalist, 37, asked VGE, now 94, if he would pose for a photograph with her, the camera operator and the sound engineer.
Le Monde and Süddeutsche Zeitung, which have seen the legal complaint, reported the journalist claimed VGE touched her buttocks several times, even though she tried to push him away “several times and with all her might”.
Stracke described it as an “unpleasant” situation and said the camera operator had tried to distract the ex-president by knocking over a lamp, the papers reported. The camera operator confirmed the story to an external law firm brought in by WDR to investigate the claim.
In 1974, while in power, VGE – married since 1952 to the aristocratic Anne-Aymone (née) Sauvage de Brantes – was reported to have crashed a borrowed sports car into a milk lorry in Paris in the early hours, with a celebrated actress in the passenger seat. After leaving the Élysée he wrote books mentioning his affairs and a novel that hinted that Diana, the Princess of Wales, had not been able to resist his charms. He later insisted the stories were untrue and “fiction”.
Olivier Revol, VGE’s chief of staff, said the former president had “no recollection” of the interview or the incident.