Juppe and son to move out of flats in corruption row

STEPHEN JESSEL

Paris

Amid rumours of the imminent resignation of the Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, the French franc came under attack yesterday and prices fell on the Paris stock exchange.

Mr Juppe denied the rumours last night, and said he and his son would move out of apartments owned by the city of Paris which have been the subject of a judicial investigation of allegations Mr Juppe abused power to lower rent or pay for renovations. "My children have or will move in the coming weeks and I will do the same to turn the page which is for me a deep wound," he said.

It was not clear what effect, if any, the move would have on the investigation of his actions while assistant Paris mayor in charge of finances from 1989 to 1993.

The rumours were prompted by the disclosure that police had opened a preliminary inquiry into possible abuse by Mr Juppe of his position to allocate himself a luxury flat belonging to the city of Paris, and to reduce the rent of another city-owned flat let to his son.

At this stage the affair stops short of being a major scandal but it is proving embarrassing and damaging to the Prime Minister. The political rumour mill has begun to grind out names of possible successors in the unlikely event that President Jacques Chirac feels able to do without Mr Juppe.

A collapse in support for the Prime Minister was confirmed by three opinion polls yesterday which showed that, in the space of a month, backing for Mr Juppe had fallen by 21 percentage points in one poll, 18 in a second poll and 16 in a third. They provided little comfort for Mr Chirac, whose own standing fell by 10, 11 and 13 points in the surveys.

Although tax increases, a public-sector wage freeze and disappointment over the failure of the government to achieve early economic success lie behind the steady drop in the two men's ratings, Mr Juppe is being further damaged by the controversy about the use of city-owned housing. He appeared to have beaten back one legal challenge arising from revelations that he reduced the rent of a flat let to his son Laurent, by Fr1,000 a month while in charge of the finances at the Paris city hall. Prosecutors decided that since Mr Juppe himself had not benefited financially he had committed no offence.

But attention has turned to an apartment let to Mr Juppe, in a chic area of central Paris at a rent well below the market rate. Claims that he was not directly involved in the distribution of city-owned flats appear to have been demolished by evidence from a city employee that Mr Juppe was closely involved in allotting flats, authorising repair work and setting rents. Renovation work worth Fr1.1m (pounds 140,000) was done to Mr Juppe's flat before he moved in.

The case is with prosecutors who have asked Paris city hall for a number of documents, and called on the police to conduct an inquiry to establish the facts. The legal position is not clear, as any offence committed by Mr Juppe may be covered by a statute of limitations.

Franc tumbles, page 20

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003