A French supermarket chain has been forced to apologise after it admitted using fake shoppers during a ministerial visit.
Suspicions were raised when a group of well- dressed women suddenly appeared and praised a government-supported price freeze on back-to- school stationery, in front of TV cameras.
The women were actually employees of Intermarche and other stooges.
Education Minister Luc Chatel said: “I can assure you it was without me knowing about it. We were not aware of anything. I find this shocking because it casts a shroud on my integrity.”
One of the female “customers” at the supermarket south of Paris was actually a local politican for the ruling UMP party of which Chatel is a member.
Socialist MP Pierre Moscovici said: “I have a hard time believing that a minister and an experienced one could have been duped in that matter. So I ask Luc Chatel to investigate what really happened, because behind this there is not only a store chain, there is also a political party, his party – the UMP”
It is not the first time a publicity stunt has backfired for a French politician. In 1990, the tourism minister was forced to quit after it was revealed that the audience at a question and answer session was full of paid supporters.