Political blackmail in Saint-Etienne: Gaël Perdriau back in the hot seat
The mayor LR of Saint-Étienne and president of the metropolis Gaël Perdriau faced fresh calls for his resignation on Thursday in connection with the political blackmail case of the intimate video that has rocked his city for a month.
On Monday he had protested his innocence during a stormy community meeting: “This story aims to destroy me,” he said, defending his legitimacy in the name of the “presumption of innocence”.
On Thursday, the absent elected representative of Saint-Etienne had delegated the chairing of the meeting to 1st Vice-President LR Hervé Reynaud.
Several metropolitan elected officials from left and right criticized his decision for not fully withdrawing, as the majority of the inter-municipal structure’s 53 mayors expressed their wish during a meeting in mid-September.
“Gaël Perdriau has lost our confidence, he is in the minority, he has lost his honor and must resign by resigning, even if it means coming back later,” said Gérard Tardy, DVD Mayor of Lorette.
“Years of work have been undone with a snap of the fingers (…) the only solution is the resignation of the President so that we can move forward calmly,” added Éric Berlivet, mayor of Roche-la-Molière, local representative of the Horizons movement.
“We do not want a formal withdrawal (…) but a real withdrawal,” stressed Saint-Etienne ecologist Olivier Longeon.
“This affair concerns us all, it pollutes us all,” left opposition leader Pierrick Courbon said, referring to “hundreds of national and international articles that describe our territory as the capital of the Barbouzes”.
The city of 175,000 has been agitated since late August by the existence of an intimate video, filmed in 2015, that sparked an extortion lawsuit by former centre-right first MP Gilles Artigues, who spoke at Monday and Thursday’s debates “on the advice his doctor was absent,” according to his political friends.
The scandal prompted Gaël Perdriau to sack his chief of staff, while one of his assistants, accused of filming the video to politically neutralize Mr Artigues, tendered his resignation.
On Thursday, several councilors tried in vain to vote for a wish that disapproved of a plan to sack cabinet director Pierre Gauttieri on charges of “infidelity” rather than “fault”.
Mediapart broadcast scathing audio recordings of two meetings that took place in November 2017 and July 2018, with very heated arguments between the mayor, his chief of staff and the former first deputy over this video.
To close the debate and move on to the agenda, the first vice-president argued on Thursday that Gaël Perdriau “has this responsibility to come to us, to listen to us and to take responsibility”.
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