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Court fines Strauss-Kahn former mistress and publisher for kiss-and-tell book

Reuters/Christian Hartmann

A French court has ordered a disclaimer to be inserted in every copy of a book by a former mistress of Dominique Strauss-Kahn but rejected his bid to stop it going on sale Wednesday. The disgraced IMF boss’s lawyers hailed “an excellent decision”.

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Strauss-Kahn, whose sex life came under international scrutiny after an incident in a New York hotel room last year, had sought to ban Belle et bête (Beautiful and beastly) by Marcela Iacub, a book that gives a fictionalised account of their seven-month affair last year.

But his legal team welcomed Tuesday's decision, claiming it showed that “you can’t keep going further and further in producing trash under the pretext that it is literature or journalism”.

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The author, the publisher and a magazine that printed excerpts from the book have been ordered to pay Strauss-Kahn a total of 75,000 euros in damages.

The Nouvel Observateur magazine was ordered to pay 25,000 euros and publish a statement on its front page, while Iacub and her publisher, Stock, have to pay 50,000 euros.

Parisian libel lawyer Aurélien Hamelle was not surprised by the decision.

"French law is notorious for being highly protective of privacy of individuals,” he told RFI. “So it is often the case that, as in this decision, courts will find that there is some kind of breach of privacy.

But the courts rarely go as far as a full ban.

"The downside is that, in most cases, the publishing houses, the magazines, the newspapers, will make more profit out of a breach of privacy than they would have to pay in damages in any event,” Hamelle commented.

“So, indeed, with 75,000 euros in total having to be paid to Dominique Strauss-Kahn in damages, the operation and the publication remains probably highly profitable, so that, actually, breaching one's privacy or, in other cases, slandering or libelling someone always remains something to be, well, from which you can reap profits."

The 75,000-euro damages is fairly high by French standards, reflecting the fact that the book is likely to be more widely circulated than a magazine article.

On the stand, Strauss-Kahn described the book, which goes into unflattering detail about his alleged sexual appetites, as “despicable and untruthful”.

“Do we now live in a world where someone just has to say something for it to appear on the papers’ front pages?” he asked.

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