French minister faces sexual harassment claims

Two young French women have brought charges of sexual harassment against a French minister, saying they had been emboldened by the arrest of the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The pair previously worked for Georges Tron, 53, as employees at the town hall in Draveil, just south of Paris, where he has been mayor since 1995. The women say the alleged harassment continued from 2007 and 2010, and both tried to commit suicide. Both women, aged 36 and 34, allege that the minister harassed them, with the help of "other women employees" who stood by. They say that he did so under the pretence of performing reflexology.

One woman, named only as Laura, said in an interview with Le Parisien that she decided that she must "break with this conspiracy of silence" following the case brought against Mr Strauss-Kahn.

Mr Tron, a civil service minister, rejected the accusations. "I'm not naïve; the idea is to echo a case happening on the other side of the Atlantic," he said. He announced his intention to start a case for "slanderous denunciation", claiming that the accusations were a matter of personal revenge.