The return of DSK

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A year since his stay at the Sofitel New York, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is re-emerging in public. So what does he have to say?

Listen to me … but leave me alone. Dominique Strauss-Kahn says he is no longer a politician. He remains, nonetheless, a master of creative ambiguity or, if you prefer, hypocrisy. In a pair of interviews this week the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) transmitted two apparently conflicting messages in an attempt to build a new life as a respected former statesman rather than an international pariah.

His first message was, in effect: "I am guilty of nothing but an exaggerated sex-drive and political misjudgement. It is time for the media, and the world, to forget me."

His second message was: "I remain a brilliant mind with much to offer a world, and especially a European Union, which has been floundering in my absence. It is time for the world to listen to me once again."

Mr Strauss-Kahn's timing is interesting. It is just over a year since he gave his last big media interview following the collapse of charges that he attempted to rape a chamber-maid in the New York Sofitel in May last year. It is just one week since a French prosecutor abandoned an accusation that he raped a Belgian call-girl in a Washington hotel in 2010.

The former French finance minister – the man who might well have been President of the Republic instead of François Hollande – still faces other accusations of sexual misbehaviour. The civil case brought by the Sofitel chambermaid, Nafissatou Diallo, rumbles on. A French court will decide next month whether or not to quash, or confirm, a formal accusation that Mr Strauss-Kahn acted as an unpaid "pimp" by helping friends to organise sex parties with prostitutes in Washington, Paris and Brussels.

In these circumstances, the rehabilitation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn might appear a little premature. On the other hand, it could be said to be already under way.

DSK, as he is widely known, has been invited in recent weeks to address high-profile conferences in Yalta, Athens and, in the past few days, Seoul. He has criticised the ponderous efforts to rescue the eurozone. In these meetings, and in one of his interviews, he has proposed his own innovative solution.

Mr Strauss-Kahn wants those euro countries which currently enjoy historically low interest rates on state debt, notably Germany and France, to plough their "windfall" into subsidising the unsustainable market rates demanded of Spain and Italy. This is a clever variant of the eurobonds or common EU debt idea opposed by Berlin. The proposal may never fly, but it reminds the world that the man who appeared on TV in chains last year has a creative political mind as well as – to say the very least – a hugely inflated libido.

In his interviews this week with the French news magazine Le Point and the newspaper Le Figaro, Mr Strauss-Kahn, 63, made it clear that he felt he still had a great deal to offer. To Le Figaro he said: "When I think something is correct, I will say so. And I will carry on doing it."

He told Le Point: "I imagine the possibility of devoting myself to great international projects … which could change the lives of people in parts of the world which need help."

However, the greater part of the Le Point interview was devoted to a more self-serving message. DSK complained that he was still the victim of constant media harassment, including permanent surveillance by paparazzi which amounted, he said, to a "man-hunt". "I have no more public duties," he said. "I have never been found guilty [of an offence] in this country or in any other … It is time to leave me alone!"

Mr Strauss-Kahn and his third wife, the journalist and heiress Anne Sinclair, who supported him financially and morally throughout the Sofitel allegations, officially broke up this summer. According to several French gossip magazines, DSK already has a new woman in his life, a 40-something TV executive. Both DSK and the woman are suing the magazines which pictured them together.

Mr Strauss-Kahn dismissed the "pimping" accusations that he faces as "artificial and absurd". He said he did not know that the women were prostitutes (despite describing them in a text message as "materiél" or "commodities"). DSK said that all violence, sexual or otherwise, was "odious" to him. (A French criminal investigation found last year that there was clear evidence that he sexually assaulted the journalist Tristane Banon in 2003 but that the events were too old to allow a prosecution.)

Mr Strauss-Kahn declined, once again, to give his version of what happened in the New York Sofitel until Ms Diallo's civil action was finished. He went on to apologise for "disappointing" his political supporters in France but then, in effect, withdrew the stronger apology that he gave in a live French TV interview in September last year.

At that time, DSK said his behaviour in the Sofitel had been a "moral failing". This week, he said: "The important thing is that what happened in that room broke no law. The rest is no one else's business."

His only mistake, he said, was "naivety". He had believed he could lead a libertine private life – "including free behaviour between consenting adults" – without any "impact on the exercise of my responsibilities".

"There are numerous soirées in Paris for that kind of thing. You would be surprised who you meet there," he said. "But what's permissible for a business leader, a sportsman or an artist is not so for a politician… I was out of step with French society on this point. I was wrong."

In other words DSK now believes – or would like the world to believe – that his behaviour was a political mistake, not a "moral" one. What is not clear is how libertine soirées in Paris justify his disputed four-minute encounter with a chambermaid in a Manhattan hotel.

Jamil Dakhlia, a media professor at the Sorbonne university in Paris, said: "The interview is full of contradictions. He says that he is no longer a politician and not a 'celeb' but makes it clear he wants to return to public responsibilities."

Mr Dakhlia said DSK was already getting plenty of high-profile invitations to private conferences but he was still ostracised by foreign, and French, politicians. The interview, he said, was the start of a campaign to prise open the doors of foreign ministries and chancelleries to secure another international post.

Could the campaign succeed? The "pimping" case against DSK is based on a technicality. The Nafissatou Diallo civil action is likely, eventually, to be settled out of court.

On the other hand, DSK cannot hope to win a senior European or international post without the support of the French government. François Hollande may owe his job to Mr Strauss-Kahn's implosion but he has no personal, or political, reason to aid his rehabilitation.

One wife, two accusers

Anne Sinclair

Mr Strauss-Kahn's wife, a journalist and heiress, stood by her husband immediately after the scandal in New York, but the couple are believed to have separated earlier this year. Ms Sinclair, 64, married the former IMF head, her second husband, in 1991. She is his third wife.

Tristane Banon

She is the journalist daughter of a Socialist politician, and god-daughter to Mr Strauss-Kahn's second wife. In 2007, she alleged that Mr Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted her five years before. Mr Strauss-Kahn admits kissing Ms Banon. now 33, but denies sexual assault.

Nafissatou Diallo

The New York hotel maid, who was born in Guinea, West Africa, claimed she was assaulted by Mr Strauss-Kahn in his room last year. Mr Strauss-Kahn insisted the sex was consensual and that Ms Diallo, 32, was only after his money. The criminal case was dropped, but she is pursuing a civil lawsuit against him.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit