Update: September 9 - I no sooner put the following post online than I read e-tribesman's comment about the previous post on the so-called "memo". He says the memo is a fake and was debunked a long time ago. If this is true, I hope he reads the information here and lets us know if he can confirm it, rectify it or debunk it entirely.
There is no doubt that all negative information and accusations against Philippe de Villiers come from the mouths of his enemies. The question is whether or not the facts are true, and how to interpret them.
The following text was written by Jean-Hervé Courty, the man pictured above in the news item. It contains the most serious accusations yet against Philippe de Villiers, and it refers back to two incidents from his past. More about Courty at the end:
Philippe de Villiers, President of the General Council since 1988, has made the department of Vendée his kingdom. Supported by 28 General Councillors out of 31, he reigns over the region without opposition. This "feudal lord", surrounded by his faithful courtiers, profits from and abuses his position, never hesitating to destroy anyone who stands in his way or who is not servile to his cause. Just as a reminder, there was the suicide on December 31, 1991 of Jean-Franklin Yavitch in the office of the President of the General Council. This former Director General of the department of Vendée, the mastermind of Puy-du-Fou, an old friend and close collaborator, was thrown out like a valet and publicly humiliated by Philippe de Villiers. Nothing escapes him, backed as he is by his brothers and his son; everything that happens in Vendée is under his control: Puy-du-Fou, Vendée Globe, the departure of the Tour de France, Alouette FM, the Château de la Chabotterie...(These refer to successful ventures in Vendée)
Philippe de Villiers, this "lite" version of Le Pen, is placing his bets on two cards: respectability vis-à-vis his constituents and nationalism, a profitable enterprise.
Philippe de Villiers, this traditional Catholic, defender of family values, had no scruples when it came to indulging in a passionate love affair with Françoise Barquin, who was his press attaché before becoming his mistress. The liaison was interrupted when rumors of the affair grew louder, becoming the talk of the fief. Françoise Barquin spoke of the affair in her autobiographical novel, The Woman Who Walked In Front, published in 1990 by Stock. The novel is out of print and nowhere to be found: every copy was purchased by a mysterious admirer as soon as the book appeared.
A champion character assassin, an inveterate pursuer of lawsuits, he is dreaded and protected by the political class that fears setting off the thunder of his rage. "He does as he pleases in his department...One does not touch Monsieur de Villiers... There's nothing you can do..." These are the comments made to me by the elected officials. And yet, a parliamentary inquiry would easily bring to light the failings and the abuses of this dictator.
The courts have remained deaf and dumb to his actions, despite my numerous attempts to file a complaint and to denounce his operation. I'm not the only one wishing to denounce him, but everybody is silent. Even the press, totally aware of the situation, keeps quiet.
I created this website to denounce the Vendée System, this "exceptional Vendée", that destroyed my life.
Jean-Hervé Courty is an artist, a sculptor, who purchased a property in Vendée in 1990, and soon found himself embroiled in a political maneuver that would cost him his land and his artistic enterprise. He purchased the land and applied for the authorization to set up a studio and an art center for the community. He thought he had such authorization, and was approved for bank loans, until, one day, the bank (Crédit Lyonnais) rescinded the loans. Later, he received a notice informing him he had not declared his agricultural revenues. Confused, he inquired and was told it was an error, but he was able to peek at the computer screen the clerk was using and saw that his studio was actually listed as an agricultural enterprise in need of development. This subterfuge allowed the department of Vendée to receive important agricultural subsidies. By setting up an artistic enterprise, he had rocked the boat. He was determined to expose this fraudulent scheme, and this is when he came upon a judicial roadblock. A tribunal in Roche-sur-Yon recognized Crédit Lyonnais as responsible for sinking his enterprise, but an appeals court in Poitiers overturned the verdict, all the while acknowledging an abuse had been committed. The Poitiers court also accused him of abusing the bank account of his enterprise, though they could provide no proof.
He claims that he has lost everything, and he was expelled from his property by a bailiff who didn't give him the time to take his art supplies with him.
I have provided just the highlights of a more complicated story, that can be found, in French, at his website.
Also, at his website, you might want to feast your eyes on his sculptures. At best, they are weirdly grotesque, but the two entitled Soumission (submission) are good. The bust of Marianne, symbol of republican France, is hideous, but that is how he perceives France today. While it did cross my mind that Philippe de Villiers expelled him for the quality of his artwork and his hippie life-style, I fear the truth is more sordid than that.
This is one man's accusation, one man's story. He was wronged and he refused to remain silent. I have no new updates on him, nor have I come upon similar stories from residents of Vendée.
The love affair is not mentioned except at Courty's website and some forums devoted to Le Pen's politics. But a Google on Françoise Barquin resulted in many references to her activities in press relations and communications. The only picture I found of her is here - she is in the middle. She looks rather young, so she must have been very young when she knew him - early twenties, I hope.
The suicide of Jean-Franklin Yavchitz is the most troubling thing. I came upon this very critical analysis of the event at a website called Letter to Lulu. I don't know who Lulu is, but this is what she has to say about Yavchitz and Philippe le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon (his full name, he is a viscount, lest we forget). Her website is clearly very left-wing. These words must have been written in 1998, ten years after the suicide, and must be regarded with caution:
Last New Year's Eve, Philippe de Villiers' fun was spoiled. Ten years ago, on December 31, 1988, a man, Jean-Franklin Yavchitz, Director of Departmental Services, fired as if he were some dirty rag by the Viscount a few days before he ascended the throne (as President of the General Council), had the bad taste to blow his brains out in de Villiers office. De Villiers had to change offices, the old one being too laden with reproaches. This accusatory suicide ruined a New Year's Eve party that was supposed to be doubly pleasant, since it coincided with the marriage of the Viscount's lieutenant, the incredible (Note: I believe she means this in a negative way) Bruno Retailleau. Ever since, every New Year's Eve revives bad memories.
In a book that relates the course of events, Madeleine Lelièvre, a woman of character, a feminist, a centrist of the Right, and fiercely rebellious at the idea of submission to the Viscount, published a letter she sent a while later to the attorney general of the Republic: "I affirm on my honor that a few days before he was fired, the Director General said to me: 'at any rate, if I must leave, (he still wasn't sure), everything will be all right. Philippe is an old friend'. Furthermore, the hatred of a vice president of the General Council for Jean-Franklin Yavchitz was legendary. It was he who headed the movement by voters to who were demanding the immediate removal of the Director General, in exchange for their votes. It was this dishonest deal that killed him. He was kicked out, like a lackey, worse, like a crook (...) Jean-Franklin Yavchitz was probably wrong to see himself as dishonored before those he loved: family, friends, colleagues. He killed himself. I believe, and many citizens of Vendée share my belief, that he was morally murdered. (...) Mr. de Villiers knew well the sensitivities of his friend and his sense of honor that was of prime importance for him - some called it pride, others dignity.
By creating the dishonorable conditions in which J-F Yavchitz was dismissed, did Mr. de Villiers not have his finger on the trigger."
There was no follow-up to this letter that would have opened an investigation into the motives for the suicide.
Since then, Philippe de Villiers would very much like to erase the date of December 31 from the calendar, a date that, obstinately returns each year. Proof to him that some unworthy riff-raff really do have it out for him.
In Lulu's quote of Madeleine Lalièvre, we have the most serious charge of all - that he bought his election as President of the Vendée General Council with the blood of his good friend Jean-Franklin Yavchitz.
Madeleine LaLièvre's book, La Pasionaria du Bocage, is only available from the author (as of the date of Lulu's post).
It seems almost an insult to readers' intelligence to remind them that these accusations are highly subjective, that we have not heard de Villiers' side of the story (probably never will) and that politics is a gladiator sport where success automatically turns all relationships into mine fields. Superficially, one can easily compare this story to Bill Clinton, Monica, and the suicide of Vince Foster, but I am in no way suggesting that such a comparison is of any use, nor could I expand on the topic, not being well-versed in either story. Regarding Clinton, I knew what the media said; regarding de Villiers, all I know is what I find on the web.
I should add two things: Yavchitz was Jewish, and one or two comments I came upon indicated that Yavchitz felt he was dismissed because he was a Jew. Some people refer to the suicide as "the suicide", implying it was murder (or a moral murder as Lalièvre said). However, this always happens with a suicide - someone else is guilty.
Another reminder: the fact that Lalièvre is a "feminist" does not give any additional credibility to her words.
If anyone finds any relevant information, or can demonstrably refute these articles, please let me know.