A former mayor of Toulouse, now head of the French television control board, has appeared on television to deny all connection with a sex, drugs and murder scandal which is shaking his home city although his name had not been publicly connected with the affair.
Dominique Baudis, mayor of Toulouse until two years ago, told a television news programme that his name was being falsely connected with this affair in a deliberate attempt to destroy his career. He suggested that this was a plot by figures in the French sex industry, who disliked his efforts to ban pornographic films from mainstream television channels.
The affair involves alleged links between members of Toulouse high society and a convicted, serial murderer, Patrice Alègre. M. Baudis said that he discovered a few days ago that his name had been given to investigators by three former prostitutes, who say they took part in sado-masochistic parties organised by the serial killer.
"I have decided to face up to this rumour, to stare calumny in the eyes and twist its neck," he said. "I am not defending myself. I am on the attack."
M. Baudis was appointed head of France's television and radio control board, the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audovisuel (CSA) by President Jacques Chirac in 2001 after 19 years as mayor of Toulouse. Since joining the CSA he has campaigned for pornographic movies to be banned from terrestrial television channels.
M. Baudis suggested yesterday that those in charge of the "pornography industry" incited the former prostitutes to make the allegations to "dirty and discredit" him.
The former prostitutes alleged that Alègre was protected for years by the police and the political establishment in Toulouse, adding that M. Baudis, while he was mayor, took part in sex parties held by Alègre involving drugs and under-age prostitutes.
One of the former prostitutes said she saw Alègre give M. Baudis a suitcase packed with Fr500 (£50) notes.
M. Baudis -despite his denials - is expected to be asked to give evidence to magistrates investigating the new evidence which suggests that Alègre was not a random murderer but the enforcer for a Toulouse prostitution gang.