Philippe de Villiers vs LICRA
Philippe de Villiers has been in the news recently because of an incident involving LICRA, the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, a left-wing anti-racism organization, whose former president Patrick Gaubert (left), attributed racist comments to Villiers, and who, in turn, sued for libel:
The former head of LICRA, Patrick Gaubert, appeared on Monday before the criminal court of Paris for defamation after having wrongly attributed racist remarks to Philippe de Villers.
An article that appeared in the weekly journal Nouvel Observateur on September 3, 2009 entitled "Sarkozy, Villiers and the rats" was presented as incriminating evidence.
In this article, the weekly quoted a communiqué from LICRA dated August 13, 2009.
The communiqué from LICRA made a reference to the rapprochement between Nicolas Sarkozy and Philippe de Villiers during the summer of 2009. After the EU Parliamentary elections, the UMP and its partners had opened up to Villiers' sovereigntist party, via the "liaison committee."
In the communiqué LICRA wrote that this action was in fact a way for the UMP to give support to the intolerable racist comments of Villiers regarding those who "reproduce like rats."
Remarks that Philippe de Villiers contests on grounds that he never said them.
During Monday's hearing, Patrick Gaubert acknowledged that the remarks had been wrongly attributed to the president of the Vendée General Council. If he did not say them, he could have said them, Gaubert said to justify himself.
Monsieur Gaubert's attorney Emmanuel Trink continued: Philippe de Villiers "is an aristocrat", "a courteous man who loves the French language", but "he is despite everything on the extreme Right of the French political spectrum" on immigration issues. "What I mean is that Monsieur de Villiers says exactly the same things as Monsieur Le Pen but with more elegance."
Note: In other words, if you say something that Jean-Marie Le Pen MIGHT have said, even though in this case the plaintiff did NOT say them, you are quoted in the press AS IF you had said them????
Alexandre Varaut, Philippe de Villiers' attorney, surprised that anyone could justify the attribution of remarks to someone who had never said them, noted ironically that such an analysis "opened a bottomless pit with regard to matters of the press". He added that never, in 24 years of political life, had his client been convicted of defamation or insult.
Philippe de Villiers is asking for 20,000 euro in damages. The judgment is set to be rendered on June 7.
Note: It is unthinkable that Gaubert will be let off without some kind of fine, since he admitted the accusation was false. If he IS exonerated, it will be as if the courts actually think PDV is guilty of something he did not do.
A quick reminder that Villiers (left) was for a while a presidential hopeful, with an agenda similar to that of the Front National, minus the anti-Semitism, the cynical pro-Iranian stand, the pro-nuclear technology for Muslim countries stand, and with a much more pronounced connection to monarchical France and the various regions than the FN under Jean-Marie Le Pen. Villiers, a Catholic of aristocratic heritage, is the general councillor of the traditionally very conservative department of Vendée. He was the only French politician I know of that befriended Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and that attended the Russian writer's funeral. Generally Solzhenitsyn is snubbed by French politicians and media. Villiers often espoused an anti-Islamization and pro-sovereignty stand, but was never able to garner any real political support, and in a decision that blew his reputation apart he joined his own party, the MPF, to Sarkozy's UMP, via a so-called "liaison committee", all the while insisting that his values had not changed. He has never recovered from this decision, but he still seems to be active despite a recent serious illness.