French Labour Minister, Eric Woerth has been cleared of accusations that he abused his position to interfere in the tax affairs of the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
It is welcome news to France’s ruling party but comes too late to avoid Sunday’s by-election defeat, put down to voter anger over the affair.
The scandal over alleged cash handouts by France’s richest woman to conservative politicians has rocked the UMP. Although the report partially clears Woerth it does not cover the alleged illegal donations which were said to have been more than 20 times the limit allowed under law.
The issue has hit President Nicolas Sarkozy’s approval rating hard. He’s to make a rare summer television interview this evening, just one day before Woerth presents Sarkozy’s unpopular pension reforms to the Cabinet.
Sarkozy is sticking by Woerth who was his treasurer during his 2007 presidential campaign.