Minister back at work, days after giving birth

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The Independent Online

Rachida Dati was the most scrutinised of all French cabinet ministers when she arrived at the Elysée Palace yesterday.

Not because of anything that she had to say butbecause the glamorous Mme Dati was back at work only five days after giving birth to a baby girl five days earlier by Caesarean section.

The 43-year old justice minister wore a black polo neck jumper with a black suit to attend the first cabinet meeting of the year, smiling broadly to journalists and posing briefly for photographers as she crossed the courtyard after being chased by paparazzi from an earlier meeting at the interior ministry.

The business daily Les Echos suggested that she decided to attend "to avoid the devastating image of a president of the Republic announcing a fundamental reform of the legal system without her being present." M. Sarkozy yesterday confirmed that he would scrap the 200-year old post of examining magistrate as part of a major judicial reform.

Mme Dati has refused to comment on the identity of the father of the baby, who is named Zohra. Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and French Sports Minister Bernard Laporte have both denied being le père.