Europe

Hollande photo row: Decision to kill picture 'an error'

French President Francois Hollande at a school in Denain, northern France, on 3 September 2013 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Picture initially issued by AFP
French President Francois Hollande at a school in Denain, northern France, on 3 September 2013 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Picture later issued by AFP

News agency Agence France-Presse has said it was wrong to withdraw an unflattering picture of French leader Francois Hollande after it was widely posted on social media sites.

The photograph was pulled for editorial reasons and not because AFP had come under pressure from the French presidency, it said.

Reuters news agency, which also killed the picture, has not reacted yet.

The photograph was taken during a visit at a school in northern France.

In a blog post, AFP's global news director Philippe Massonnet says: "With the benefit of hindsight we see that the decision to retract the photo was clearly an error.

"The order to kill the photo ironically breathed new life into this saga, and led to the image being massively shared across social networks in France, often accompanied by unkind comments about AFP."

Since coming to office, Mr Hollande has struggled to boost his popularity, earning the nickname Flanby (a wobbly caramel pudding). Newspapers described his appearance in Tuesday's image as "gormless" or "simple-minded".

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