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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

France's Macron backs second minister accused of rape

Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot is the second senior minister to have been accused of rape in just two weeks

French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot has been accused of sexual assault. Philippe Wojazer/ Reuters
French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot has been accused of sexual assault. Philippe Wojazer/ Reuters

France’s Emmanuel Macron has put his full support behind a senior minister accused of raping a teenager.

Environment minister Nicolas Hulot denies the accusation that he attacked the 17-year-old granddaughter of a famous politician in 1997.

Mr Hulot, 62, is the second senior minister to have been accused of rape in just two weeks.

France’s budget minister Gérald Darmanin is being investigated by prosecutors, who reopened an inquiry into rape allegations made by Sophie Spatz.

Ms Spatz alleges Mr Darmanin attacked her over a decade ago while he was working as a legal advisor.

Both men have admitted having sexual relations with their accusers but say it was consensual.

Mr Hulot, a former presenter of a TV adventure programme, said his accuser had filed a complaint in 2008, which had been dismissed.

"I was questioned at my own request and investigators very quickly concluded that there was nothing suggesting the case should be followed up," Mr Hulot told BFMTV on Thursday.

The married father of two said the rumours were “shameful”, describing his predicament as a “nightmare”.

"It hurts, when it's wrongful and unfounded. Yesterday, my children were in tears," Mr Hulot added.

Mr Macron and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe have backed Mr Hulot and dismissed calls for him to resign.

“There is a point of law clearly established by the prime minister, in agreement with the President, which is that if there is no indictment, there is no need for a resignation to be mentioned,” an aide to Mr Macron and Mr Philippe said.

Mr Hulot has also denied rumours that he had harassed a former female colleague.

The woman concerned put down the reports telling French media: "I have no comment to make on a case that is not one.”