Keyword: Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt

How the Bettencourt scandal began and ended in a trial of freedom of the press

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Seven years after the revelation of the so-called “Bettencourt affair”, the tentacular scandal of corruption, fraud, tax evasion, conflicts of interest and political funding centred on the entourage of Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of the L’Oréale cosmectics giant, those who exposed the crimes committed against the dementia-suffering billionaire were tried by a Bordeaux appeal court last month for invasion of privacy. They are Bettencourt’s butler, who secretly recorded compromising conversations of those who were swindling his employer, and Mediapart and weekly magazine Le Point which published the contents of the tapes. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel explains here the history of an absurd legal procedure led by a public prosecutor’s office that has never accepted an initial court ruling that threw out the case on the grounds of the press’s duty to inform and the public’s right to know.

Bettencourt trial: the humiliation, fear and anger of the accused

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Defendant François-Marie Banier at court for the Bettencourt trial. © Reuters Defendant François-Marie Banier at court for the Bettencourt trial. © Reuters

After predictable procedural wrangles – plus some unforeseen delays – the long-awaited Bettencourt trial got under way in Bordeaux last week. Those on trial, who include a former minister in Nicolas Sarkozy's government, stand accused of either directly preying on the frailty of L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt or of profiting from it. Eight of the accused gave evidence during the week, all struggling to hide their dismay at being in the dock. The first was writer and photographer François-Marie Banier, a close confidant of Bettencourt from whom he received some 414 million euros, and who told the court he understands nothing about the world of money and business. “I'm not a spoilt child or a dandy,” he insisted. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court to witness the start of this extraordinary trial.

Bettencourt clan finally agree L'Oréal is worth it

This article has been censored

A ruling by the Versailles court of appeal on July 4th 2013 has ordered that Mediapart must remove from its website all articles which contain extracts from the so-called ‘butler tapes’ at the heart of the Bettencourt affair. The penalty for not doing so is 10,000 euros per article per day (effective from July 21st). Mediapart has appealed against the ruling.