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French PM demands cuts from biography for violating private life

Borne has fought a battle to force through President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform
Borne has fought a battle to force through President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform - Copyright AFP Ludovic MARIN
Borne has fought a battle to force through President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform - Copyright AFP Ludovic MARIN

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has filed a suit with a court demanding the withdrawal of parts of a biography published this month, arguing they violate her private life, the publishing house said on Wednesday.

According to the complaint seen by AFP, Borne lists passages in the book by journalist Berengere Bonte “referring to her health and sexual orientation”, as well as to her family life, that need to be removed.

Borne, 62, who was appointed last year and has fought a bruising battle to force through President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms, is extremely discreet about her family history and personal life.

She has on occasion opened up about how her father survived the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in the Holocaust but then took his own life when she was 11.

She has, however, never spoken publicly about her current personal life.

The book, published by the Archipel publishing house, hit French bookstores on May 4 and is the first biography of Borne. Bonte’s publishers have robustly defended the work.

“This book is the result of a year of investigation, dozens of interviews including two long interviews with Ms Borne as well as with eminent members of her cabinet, her family and her close circle of friends,” Archipel said.

In the filing with the court in Nanterre outside Paris, Borne has demanded the withdrawal of several passages from the book.

Her complaint argues that the information “cannot fall within the range of a legitimate freedom of information interest of the public”.

She is asking for a symbolic one euro in damages and 5,000 euros (around $5,500) in legal costs. The hearing is expected on May 24.

The book can stay on sale for now, but if she wins the case the passages would be cut from future reprints.

Critics have accused Borne, an experienced technocrat, of lacking the human touch and charisma to sell government policy.

In an interview last year with French TV, she acknowledged her discretion was down to the trauma of her childhood.

“It’s shocking for an 11-year-old girl to lose her father in these conditions,” Borne told LCI. “And I think I closed up and that I avoid showing my emotions too much.” 

This is only the latest publishing industry controversy for a member of Macron’s government.

Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has faced questions over how he found the time to write a novel containing one breathlessly erotic passage that went viral online.

And social economy minister Marlene Schiappa posed for Playboy, albeit mostly clothed, earning a reproach from Borne who said it was “not at all appropriate”.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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