France: First lady taken to hospital

Valerie Trierweiler was admitted to hospital for 'rest and some tests'. Picture: Getty
Valerie Trierweiler was admitted to hospital for 'rest and some tests'. Picture: Getty
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French first lady Valerie Trierweiler has been admitted to hospital following allegations of an affair involving president François Hollande, it was revealed yesterday.

Her office said she had been admitted on Friday “for rest and some tests”.

Mr Hollande’s partner was admitted a day after Closer magazine published images of the alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet

Mr Hollande, 59, has not denied visiting 41-year-old Gayet at a flat near the Elysee Palace but has protested at the magazine’s invasion of his privacy.

Ms Trierweiler, 49, is expected to leave hospital today.

The French president has threatened to sue over the report, which he called an “attack on the right to privacy”, without denying the allegation.

The article was illustrated with photos showing a man said to be the president visiting a flat at the same time as Gayet.

The man said to be the president is wearing a helmet and is ferried to and from the building on a moped.

A presidential news conference scheduled for tomorrow on plans to boost France’s flagging economy is set to be overshadowed by Mr Hollande’s private life.

Conservative opposition leader Jean-François Cope has suggested the drama has damaged France’s image abroad.

Opinion polls already suggest Mr Hollande is the most unpopular president in a generation – one on Thursday indicated that only 25 per cent of French people trusted him.

The French media face strict privacy laws but while the tradition of secrecy over the private lives of public figures has been steadily eroded in recent years, polls suggest the French public appears to be averse to reporting of politicians’ private lives.

Gayet has appeared in more than 50 films, and once appeared in one of Mr Hollande’s election campaign television adverts.

Rumours of an alleged relationship have been circulating on for many months.

Last March, she filed a complaint with prosecutors in Paris against various bloggers and websites that were reporting on the rumours. Her lawyer at the time said there was no basis to the claims.

She has not yet commented on the latest developments.

Mr Hollande’s official partner is Valerie Trierweiler, a journalist for whom he left fellow Socialist politician Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children.

Following the publication of the pictures, Mr Hollande said that he, “like every other citizen has a right” to privacy.

In a statement issued personally rather than by his office, he said he was “looking into possible action, including legal action” against Closer.

In Britain, the royal family took legal action against the magazine in September 2012 after it published photos of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless on a private holiday in France.

The editor of Closer, Laurence Pieau – along with two photographers and the magazine’s publishing director Ernesto Mauri – has since been charged with breaching privacy laws.

French people have historically been tolerant of their leaders’ infidelities, with revelations making little impact on poll ratings.

Former president Jacques Chirac was a known adulterer, once confessing: “There have been women I have loved a lot, as discreetly as possible.”

His predecessor, François Mitterand, kept secret a mistress and daughter for much of his presidency, only acknowledging them shortly before his death in 1996.

French political commentator Anne Elisabeth Moutet said the magazine was unlikely to have gone with the story about Mr Hollande’s alleged affair “without being quite sure that they had something on it”.

“And what’s very interesting is that this was immediately picked up by one of the very respectable news magazines, Le Point,” she said.

President Hollande, who took office in May 2012, has seen public support slipping recently. One poll in November gave him just 15 per cent support, the lowest for any president in the past 50 years.