Calls grow to sack French culture minister who 'paid for boys in Thailand'
Both far-right and far-left politicians have joined the criticism of Frdric Mitterrand, which now risks throwing the government into a crisis. The National Front has admitted it went looking for scandal about Mr Mitterrand after his impassioned defence last week of Roman Polanski. The film director was arrested in Switzerland on US charges connected with his having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 in Los Angeles.
Mr Mitterrand's 2005 book, La Mauvaise Vie (The Bad Life) describes difficult periods in his childhood and his homosexuality. One passage describes his "bad habit of paying for boys" in Thailand. The minister said yesterday that he was not a paedophile and that he used the term "boys" loosely.
Henri Guaino, an aide to Nicolas Sarkozy, said the book was written four years ago with no complaint from any politician.
The president's conservative UMP party is holding firm in defence of Mr Mitterrand, who is a nephew of the Socialist former president Franois Mitterrand.
Socialist politician Arnaud Montebourg claimed that Frdric Mitterrand "deliberately acted in violation of national and international laws", and he appealed to Mr Sarkozy and prime minister Franois Fillon to fire him.
The scandal started when National Front leader Marine Le Pen read excerpts of Mr Mitterrand's book on French television and demanded the minister's resignation.