THE two women at the centre of the French president’s troubled love life were involved in separate court hearings yesterday over privacy issues.
Julie Gayet, the French actress, brought an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against a gossip magazine that reported she was having an affair with president François Hollande.
Ms Gayet is seeking €54,000 (£44,000) in damages and legal fees from Closer magazine, plus front-page publication of a summary of any judicial ruling in the case.
The 41-year-old actress was not present yesterday at the court in Nanterre, west of Paris.
Closer’s January revelation that Mr Hollande was meeting secretly with Ms Gayet led to his public separation from his long-time companion, Valerie Trierweiler, and drew international headlines. Mr Hollande never denied his relationship with Ms Gayet.
The actress has appeared in public only once since the report – at last week’s Cesar cinawards, which are the French equivalent of the Oscars.
Meanwhile, Ms Trieweiler, the president’s former partner, won her privacy case against the same magazine yesterday. Ms Trierweiller was awarded €12,000 in an action she launched over pictures of her recovering from their break-up on a tropical beach.
The court ordered weekly glossy Closer to pay the cash, which was less than a quarter of the maximum €50,000 her lawyers had demanded.
The offending article detailed how Ms Trierweiler, 48, had jetted off to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius days after Mr Hollande left her.
The four-page spread was accompanied by pictures of Ms Trierweiler and two girlfriends in their swimming costumes.
“The hurt caused is all the greater because the article capitalised on the difficult period that [Ms Trierweiler] was going through,” the court ruling said.
“The number of photographs taken, obviously with a telephoto lens, suggest she was subject to intrusive surveillance by a photographer.”
Last night the magazine declined to comment.
The French court has yet to rule on Ms Gayet’s case which began yesterday. In addition to €50,000, Ms Gayet is seeking €4,000 in legal costs.
Closer made waves in early January by publishing photographs of Mr Hollande arriving on a scooter at an apartment near the Élysée presidential palace.
The magazine said the 59-year-old president was a regular visitor to the flat for trysts with the actress, with whom he had been having an on-off affair for more than two years.
Ms Gayet has also pressed criminal charges against a photographer who took photographs of her in her car, which Closer published on 17 January.
Under French law, the inside of a car is considered to be a private space and subject to the country’s strict privacy laws.
Since his split with Ms Trierweiler, Mr Hollande has refused to say whether he is still seeing Ms Gayet.
Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer, defended her scoop ahead of the hearing, saying the affair was the talk of the town already.
She said: “We did our job as journalists in correctly informing the public about something they had a right to know.”