Members of the French government have rallied round State Budget Minister, Gerald Darmanin, who is being investigated after a rape accusation was made against him.
Point of view
"We must keep two things in mind: the respect for presumption of innocence on the one hand and respect for the word of the complainant on the other."Socialist Senator
Sophie Spatz, a former call girl, said he had pressurised her into having sex with him in return for help clearing her name in a legal dispute back in 2009. In a chilling negative echo of the #MeToo slogan, she alleges that he placed his hand on hers and said "you too must help me".
The original case was dropped when she failed to show up for police questioning last year.
Darmanin has been a prominent member of President Emmanuel Macron's centrist cabinet since he jumped ship from the Republicans.
He contests the claims, saying he was a "nobody" at the time of the alleged incident, and filing a counter suit for false denunciation.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, and the Ministers for Justice and Agriculture are amongst those to have sprung to the Budget Minister's defence.
They say he has their full confidence and that even politicians are innocent until proven guilty.