French parliament VP quits after sexual harassment accusations

Reuters News
Posted: May 09, 2016 8:33 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - A French lawmaker resigned as vice-president of the National Assembly on Monday after being accused of sexual harassment by fellow politicians, a rare development in a country where such allegations are usually kept under wraps.

Denis Baupin, who did not surrender his seat as an elected member of the lower house of parliament, rejected the accusations in a statement published on his website.

"Following the accusations in the media, Mr Denis Baupin wants to underline ... that these are defamatory and baseless lies," the statement said, adding that he had resigned to protect the reputation of parliament and to defend himself.

Baupin is the husband of Housing Minister Emmanuelle Cosse. He recently left the pro-environment Greens over disagreements about party strategy.

He came under sudden pressure to resign after female party officials and lawmakers went on the record on Monday in French media to level accusations at him.

Sandrine Rousseau, a Green party spokeswoman, told France Inter radio and Mediapart online media, which first revealed the case, that one day in October 2011, "he pressed me against the wall, holding my breasts and tried to kiss me."

Lawmaker Isabelle Attard said: "It was an almost daily harassment with provocative, salacious text messages."

(Reporting by Emile Picy and Yann Le Guernigou; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Callus/Mark Heinrich)