France archives boss Saal resigns over €40,000 taxi bill

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Agnes Saal said she needed a taxi account as she could not require a chauffeur to work up to 15 hours a day

A top French civil servant has been forced to resign after spending more than €40,000 (£29,000; $44,000) on taxis in 10 months.

Agnes Saal stepped down as head of France's TV and radio archives at the demand of the culture minister.

She had previously argued she needed to travel by taxi, despite having a chauffeur as well as a private car.

But she admitted her son was responsible for €6,700 of the bill and said she had returned that sum.

She said giving him her reservation number was a "silly mistake", according to Le Figaro newspaper on Sunday.

But she needed to take the cabs herself because she could not expect her chauffeur to work the same hours.

"As I cannot make him work 12 to 15 hours including weekends, I've also got a G7 taxi account because I don't have a driver's licence," she said.

Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin asked Ms Saal to resign with immediate effect, the ministry said on Tuesday.

Ms Saal took over last year as head of France's National Audiovisual Institute (INA), a public body that preserves and promotes the country's radio and TV heritage.

She replaced Mathieu Gallet, who is now head of French public radio and is himself at the centre of a scandal after reportedly spending €100,000 on renovating his office and hiring a €90,000 PR consultant, just as he was preparing a cost-cutting plan.

Employees at Radio France ended their longest ever strike earlier this month, after walking out for 28 days.