Investigations

  • Proof of Macron chief of staff's lie over family links to shipping firm

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    Chief of staff Alexis Kohler and PM Edouard Philippe, both members of the Le Havre Supervisory Board from 2010 to 2012. © LCI Chief of staff Alexis Kohler and PM Edouard Philippe, both members of the Le Havre Supervisory Board from 2010 to 2012. © LCI

    Contrary to what he has stated, President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff Alexis Kohler has not always revealed his family links to the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), and in his duties as a senior public servant has not always stood aside from issues involving the giant Italian-Swiss shipping firm. Official documents from the major French port of Le Havre, seen by Mediapart, show that Kohler took part in discussions and votes concerning the company while he sat on the port's Supervisory Board as a civil servant from 2010 to 2012. Laurent Mauduit and Martine Orange investigate.

  • New video shows Macron aide and associate illegally 'policing' May Day crowds

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    Alexandre Benalla (circled, with white hood) and Vincent Crase (circled right) during the arrest of a man in the Jardin des plantes on May 1st. Alexandre Benalla (circled, with white hood) and Vincent Crase (circled right) during the arrest of a man in the Jardin des plantes on May 1st.

    French President Emmanuel Macron’s security aide Alexandre Benalla, together with an employee of Macron’s ruling LREM party, Vincent Crase, were involved on May 1st in other incidents before they assaulted a man among May Day crowds at a square in the Latin Quarter of Paris. In a new video obtained by Mediapart, the two men, officially present alongside police as civilian “observers” of crowd-control operations that day, can be seen heavy-handedly joining in the arrest of a man at a public park. The new evidence of their violent and illegal behaviour that day further deepens the scandal of a suspected cover-up of their actions by the presidential office and senior police hierarchy.

  • Macron aide scandal: illegally copied CCTV footage given to Élysée ended up on Twitter

    Alexandre Benalla (foreground) during the May Day marches in Paris on May 1st. © DR Alexandre Benalla (foreground) during the May Day marches in Paris on May 1st. © DR

    The unfolding scandal prompted by videos of the vicious assault of a man during May Day disturbances by President Emmanuel Macron’s private security aide Alexandre Benalla now includes the revelation that confidential police CCTV footage of the events in a Paris square were published on Twitter by supporters of Macron’s party in an attempt to denigrate Benalla’s victim. Screenshots obtained by Mediapart show the images, apparently from a CD copy of the footage given to Benalla by police officers, and which Benalla said he immediately handed to the Élysée Palace, were posted on social media just after Benalla’s thuggish behaviour was revealed by French daily Le Monde – before being removed just hours later.Karl Laske, Pascale Pascariello and Lénaïg Bredoux report.

  • Benalla scandal lifts lid on shadowy Élysée 'mission leaders'

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    Extract from Alexandre Benalla's empoyment contract with the Elysée Palace (full details in the article). © Document Mediapart Extract from Alexandre Benalla's empoyment contract with the Elysée Palace (full details in the article). © Document Mediapart

    The political scandal surrounding Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced personal security advisor Alexandre Benalla is centred less on his thuggish behaviour in beating up May Day demonstrators while illegally wearing police insignia but rather on the secrecy of his role and his relationship with the president who afforded the 26-year-old extraordinary powers. Benalla was engaged as a ‘mission leader’ with the presidency, a vague title afforded to a number of other Élysée Palace staff whose activities are largely unaccountable to the public. Mediapart has obtained the employment contracts of Benalla and five other so-called ‘mission leaders’ at the Élysée which reveal how they are exempt from probity law requirements that apply to official advisors. Mathilde Mathieu reports.     

  • French minister and police chief point to Élysée over Benalla scandal

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    French interior minister Gérard Collomb appearing before MPs on Monday. © Reuters French interior minister Gérard Collomb appearing before MPs on Monday. © Reuters

    The French parliament commission of inquiry into the scandal sparked by media revelations last week of the vicious assault upon a May Day demonstrator by President Emmanuel Macron’s personal security advisor, Alexandre Benalla, who was illegally allowed to take an active part in policing May 1st crowds dressed with police insignia, began its first hearings on Monday, when it quizzed interior minister Gérard Collomb and Paris police prefect Michel Delpuech. In their testimony, both men clearly placed responsibility for what increasingly appears as a far-reaching cover-up at the door of the presidential office.

  • Macron thug-and-aide scandal deepens with cover-up claims

    Alexandre Benalla (centre) and his associate Vincent Crase attack a demonstrator on May 1st in the presence of police. © DR Alexandre Benalla (centre) and his associate Vincent Crase attack a demonstrator on May 1st in the presence of police. © DR

    President Emmanuel Macron was this weekend mired the gravest crisis since he came to office little more than a year ago, after further revelations about the events when his personal security advisor physically assaulted May Day demonstrators while dressed as a police officer, and growing evidence that his extraordinary behaviour was covered up by the Élysée Palace and the interior ministry. Both Macron and his interior minister Gérard Collomb were reportedly made aware more than two months ago of the thuggish behaviour of the president’s personal security advisor Alexandre Benalla, who was only finally dismissed from his post on Friday when he was taken into police custody two days after the scandal was first revealed by the media.

  • French film director Luc Besson faces new claims of sexual violence

    By , and Geoffrey Le Guilcher
    Luc Besson. © Reuters Luc Besson. © Reuters

    On July 6th, 2018, a former casting director wrote to the Paris public prosecutor claiming she had been 'sexually assaulted' by the acclaimed French film director and producer Luc Besson. This follows allegations of rape detailed in a formal complaint on May 18th by the actress Sand Van Roy against Besson, and a further complaint by Van Roy on July 6th. After an investigation lasting several months, Mediapart can reveal the stories of several women who describe sexually inappropriate behaviour by Besson, best known for blockbuster films such as 'Nikita', ‘The Big Blue’, 'Leon', ‘The Fifth Element’, and more recently 'Lucy', and who has vehemently denied all the allegations against him. Marine Turchi, Lénaig Bredoux and Geoffrey Le Guilcher report.

  • Inspections highlight worrying safety lapses at French nuclear power plants

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    The nuclear power station at Chinon in western France,  where a number of safety issues were identified. © Reuters The nuclear power station at Chinon in western France, where a number of safety issues were identified. © Reuters

    A Parliamentary report recently called for improvements in safety at the country's nuclear power plants. In response, the state-backed power utility EDF, which operates the plants, insisted that safety is its top priority. But documents from the French nuclear watchdog the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire seen by Mediapart – but not by French MPs who wrote the report – reveal a different story. They show that procedures to prevent explosions in areas of several nuclear plants are deeply inadequate and in some cases non-existent. Pascale Pascariello reports.

  • Prosecutor calls for pilots to be tried over bombing that killed French soldiers

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    Will they stand trial? Former ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters Will they stand trial? Former ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters

    In 2004 a bombing raid killed nine French soldiers and an American aid worker at Bouaké in Ivory Coast. Fourteen years later, and after years of painstaking investigation in the face of bureaucratic obstruction from the French authorities, prosecutors in Paris have said that three pilots should stand trial over the attack. As Antton Rouget reports, it could also pave the way for three senior French government ministers at the time - Dominique de Villepin, Michèle Alliot-Marie and Michel Barnier – to stand trial too.

  • Mystery of the giant shipping line linked to President Macron's chief of staff

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    MSC container ships in the Spanish port of Valencia. © Reuters MSC container ships in the Spanish port of Valencia. © Reuters

    Why was Alexis Kohler, who is now secretary general at the Elysee and chief of staff to President Emmanuel Macron, so keen to become finance director at the shipping firm MSC and its cruise company subsidiary MSC Cruises? Yes, the Italian-Swiss group is world number two in maritime freight, is a major cruise company and controls a number of port terminals. But it also uses tax havens and practices tax avoidance, keeps its business confidential and operates in an environment where dangerous shadows lurk. Martine Orange and Cecilia Ferrara investigate.