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Collomb faces MPs' anger over handling of Benalla affair

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Collomb faces MPs' anger over handling of Benalla affair

Collomb faces MPs' anger over handling of Benalla affair
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MPs from all opposition parties have lambasted French Interior Minister Gerard Colomb for his handling of the assault of a May Day protester by a presidential security aide.

Colomb had insisted that it wasn't for him to inform judicial officials of the incident.

Michel Depuech, head of Paris Police Prefecture, said: "This affair, as the press says, is obviously not without consequence for the police prefecture. Fundamentally, these events result from unacceptable and condemnable individual excesses, mixed with unhealthy favoritism."

During his deposition Collomb said that while he did know of Benalla, he was unaware of his connection to President Emmanuel Macron.

He said: "I had already met Mr Benalla during his time in service. Personally, I did not know him. I even thought he was someone who was part of the police. I never encountered him, or rather I had met him, but I was unaware of his job as aide to the president."

The failure to immediately inform judicial officials has developed into a major political crisis for Macron.

Backbench MP Alexis Corbière told reporters that Macron must give his account in order for the inquiry to get the full story.

"It is clear today that we have to depose the President because we understand very well that Mr. Collomb knows very little," he said.

"He told this commission that he isn't aware of the professional status of the person in charge of the President's security. That's where we are at ! "

Meanwhile Marine Le Pen, the President of the far-right Rassemblement national party said: "That is, I think, the most serious issue in this case: the existence of an unofficial government police that is not overseen by the Interior Minstry."

Alexandre Benalla was only publicly identified last week as the man beating a protester on May 1 and handed preliminary charges on Sunday.

He had been embedded with the police as an observer during the protests, but was not entitled to act on their behalf.