French finance minister denies twanging journalist's panties

2 min

Paris (AFP)

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin on Friday denied "slanderous" accusations that he pulled the exposed elastic of a journalist's underwear as she bent over in his presence.

The allegation was made in a book by two French journalists on reporting in the corridors of power called "Elysee Off".

"Michel Sapin categorically denies all false and slanderous accusations contained in a book published in recent days," his spokeswoman Helene Fontanaud wrote on Twitter.

She said Sapin "reserves the right to set the record straight."

The authors of the book, journalists Stephanie Marteau and Aziz Zemouri, recount the incident between the minister and another unnamed journalist during the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos in 2015.

They write that the journalist had bent over to pick up a pen when a "minister ... the occupant of Bercy (where the finance ministry is based)" said: "Ah, but what are you showing me here" and snapped the elastic of her unintentionally exposed underwear.

The incident had previously been published as part of a 2015 petition in the Liberation newspaper signed by dozens of female journalists denouncing sexism from male politicians entitled: "Get your paws off me!"

However at the time no indication was given of who the minister was.

According to the authors of the book, Sapin's office brushed the incident off at the time, saying: "It was a schoolyard prank and the journalist flew off the handle."

A member of Sapin's team is quoted in the book saying: "He doesn't understand the fuss and is very surprised at the turn the case has taken."