The former French first lady Cécilia Sarkozy has tried to block publication of a book in which she is quoted as criticising her ex-husband's morals, his parenting skills and his fitness to be president.
Mme Sarkozy's remarks in the book, published yesterday, are her first public attacks on her ex-husband since they were divorced last October.
A journalist, and long-time confidante of Mme Sarkozy, Anna Bitton, quotes her as describing President Nicolas Sarkozy as a sauteur (a vulgar term for a serial womaniser). Mme Sarkozy describes the President as "having a ridiculous side ... with a real behaviour problem". She is also quoted as saying that he is "mean with money" and "a man who loves no one, not even his children".
Mme Sarkozy sought an injunction blocking publication of the book yesterday on the grounds that it "seriously invaded" her private life. The Tribunal de Paris will make a ruling this morning, but extensive passages were published yesterday in the news magazines Le Point and Le Nouvel Observateur.
The book – Cécilia, published by Flammarion – is one of three books about the former first lady published yesterday and today. Earlier this week, President Sarkozy as good as confirmed that he planned to marry the new woman in his life, the former model Carla Bruni, whom he met in late November, seven weeks after his divorce.
In the extracts from Bitton's book published by magazines yesterday, Mme Sarkozy is quoted as mocking her former husband's "undignified" bachelor life. She suggests the President of the Republic, 53 this month, plunged into a round of "karaoke parties until four in the morning".
She added: "He has a ridiculous side. He is undignified. Nicolas doesn't come over like a president. He has a real behaviour problem ... He needs someone to point it out to him. I did it for 18 years and I can't do it any more. I am the last person who can do it."
These, and other, extracts incensed the Elysée Palace. Senior officials said Mme Sarkozy denied ever making such remarks. But Mme Sarkozy's lawyers sought an injunction to prevent publication on the grounds that the book had invaded the former first lady's privacy – not that it was inaccurate.
Bitton, the author, said she was "very surprised at and regretted" Mme Sarkozy's "hasty" decision. "The book is based on the long relationship that we have developed over the years as part of my journalistic work," she said.
Bitton offers the first clear explanation of why Mme Sarkozy chose to divorce the President, four months after he took office. By giving up the trappings of power, the book suggests, Mme Sarkozy was making the "most beautiful possible declaration of love" to the man for whom she left M Sarkozy for eight months in 2005.
Mme Sarkozy, 50, is quoted as saying of the French public relations executive Richard Attias: "He is the man of my life and I am the woman of his life."
One of the other newly published books on Mme Sarkozy has also caused controversy. Ruptures, by Michael Darmon and Yves Derai, published by Moment reported that Mme Sarkozy had masterminded a virtual "commando raid" to free Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor from captivity in Libya last July, where they were being held after a dubious conviction for spreading the Aids virus.
The book suggests that the Libyans tried to back down on a promise to release the medics, but that Mme Sarkozy, present in Tripoli, ordered a squad of French police to seize them by force. This version of events was denied yesterday by one of the freed nurses, Nassia Nenova.Reuse content