Dominique Strauss-Kahn faces new legal action

A French novelist who accused former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape is pressing ahead with legal action against him..

Tristane Banon's lawyer David Koubbi said he will file the papers in Paris tomorrow.

Ms Banon has described an encounter several years ago in which Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted her.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York in May on charges that he tried to rape a hotel maid. Strauss-Kahn, who denied wrongdoing, was released without bail last week after questions emerged about the maid's credibility.

Mr Koubbi had said that they would not start legal action until the American trial was finished. He said today that they had decided to move forward now instead of waiting.

The move has introduced fresh uncertainty into a fierce French national debate about whether Strauss-Kahn can return to the country's presidential race.

Banon came forward after Strauss-Kahn's May 14 arrest in New York to accuse him of wrenching open her bra and trying to unbutton her jeans in 2002. Mr Koubbi said she had been dissuaded at the time from filing charges by her mother, a regional councillor in Strauss-Kahn's Socialist party.

Before Mr Koubbi's announcement, the country was split on whether it wanted him back in public life: two polls showed an almost even division between those who thought he should return, and those who believed his political career was over.

The former IMF chief's re-entry to politics would be a tectonic shift in a campaign already shaken by his arrest on charges of attacking the New York hotel maid. He had been widely seen as the leading contender in the 2012 election, leading polls in the months before his arrest.