A French appeals court has reduced the ban on French ex-Prime Minister Alain Juppé holding elected office from 10 years to one, but has upheld his conviction for unlawful use of public funds. The court’s decision opens the way for Juppé to return to politics long before the next presidential and parliamentary elections. Those are due in 2007.The conservative politician left the court in Versailles without talking to reporters. He is widely rumoured to be the man French President Jacques Chirac, would most like to succeed him. But so far Juppé‘s kept quiet about any future political ambitions. The court also gave Juppé a reduced 14-month suspended sentence for his role in a political scam in which Paris city hall funds were used to pay party workers during the late 1980s and early 90s. Juppé was in charge of finances at City Hall at the same time as Jacques Chirac was mayor of Paris. Chirac has invoked his presidential immunity to avoid being questioned over the affair. It was last January that the court originally handed out an 18-month sentence to Juppé and barred him from elected office for 10 years.