Billionaire Dassault ends legal action against Mediapart over secretly-taped 'confession'

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On Wednesday February 25th, lawyers representing the French billionaire and senator Serge Dassault announced they were withdrawing an appeal against a ruling that Mediapart had been justified in publishing details of secretly-made tape recordings involving the industrialist. In those recordings Dassault, who also owns a newspaper group, appears to confess to handing out large sums of cash to ensure his preferred candidate won an election. As Mediapart's editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel points out, not only is Dassault's decision to stop the appeal a victory for press freedom in France, the outcome also makes a mockery of the decision by another court to ban Mediapart from using any content from the tapes at the heart of the Bettencourt affair.

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The billionaire industrialist and senator Serge Dassault has withdrawn his appeal against a court judgement that backed Mediapart's decision to publish details of a secretly-recorded conversation involving him. In the recording, which provided the basis for a Mediapart story published in September 2013, Dassault appears to admit to paying out large sums of cash to secure victory for a favoured candidate at a local election in the town of Corbeil-Essonnes, south-west of Paris. The tape was made clandestinely by visitors who had gone to Dassault's office to complain that they had not received their share of the handouts.