Europe

Hollande faces fresh controversy over 'toothless' remark

Valerie Trierweiler and Francois Hollande pictured together in 2012. The couple split in 2014. Image copyright AP
Image caption Ms Trierweiler has posted an apparent text message from Mr Hollande in 2005

The French president's former girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler, has renewed her claim he used "toothless" as a nickname for the poor.

Francois Hollande was accused of using the term by Ms Trierweiler after their acrimonious split in 2014.

In a new book, Mr Hollande said he never used the term in a derogatory way and called her story "a betrayal".

In response, Ms Trierweiler posted what appears to be a 2005 text message from the president using the term.

The allegation is potentially damaging to the Socialist Party president as he considers whether to stand again in next year's presidential election.

Transcript of messages

French newspaper Le Parisien published excerpts from a new book (in French), A President Should Not Say That, on Wednesday. Written by two journalists, it documents dozens of private conversations they had with Mr Hollande.

In one excerpt, he said Ms Trierweiler's claim that he had referred to the poor as "sans dents" (without teeth) was never said in a derogatory way.

Instead, he claimed he once said: "I see people who come up to me during demonstrations, they are poor, they are toothless."

Ms Trierweiler responded with a transcription of a message she says was from Mr Hollande, with details down to the date and time.

Image copyright @valtrier

"I am with my friend Bernadette in a large demonstration in her district," the tweet says. "I launched a charm offensive. But you do not have to worry. In her speech, she made a great slip. Everyone laughed, even the toothless."

Ms Trierweiler dated the message to 31 May 2005, at 12.39pm. However, she has not posted any photographic proof of the original message.

The allegation about Mr Hollande's attitude to the poor initially appeared in August 2014 in Ms Trierweiler's book Thank You For This Moment, published months after her split from Mr Hollande.

Their separation came after tabloid magazine Closer published details of his affair with actress Julie Gayet.

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