UK & World News
France: Ex-Justice Minister In Paternity Suit
A former French justice minister is taking a multimillionaire hotel mogul to court to prove he is the father of her three-year-old daughter, in the latest scandal to hit France's elite.
Rachida Dati,46, is also suing a French magazine for an article she says is full of "malicious gossip".
Ms Dati gave birth to a baby girl in January 2009 when she was serving as justice minister under ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy.
She refused to reveal the father's identity, but has now launched a legal bid to have Dominique Desseigne, the chief of the Lucien Barriere casino, hotel and restaurant group, accept paternity.
A court in Versailles is set to issue a ruling on December 4.
Mr Desseigne, 68, has confirmed that he had a fling with Dati but has refused to take a paternity test.
Under French law, the court cannot force Mr Desseigne to comply.
But the court can interpret a refusal as confirming he is the father, legal experts say.
The case is the latest to shed light on the private lives of France's ruling class, a subject that had until recently been taboo.
President Francois Hollande's companion was recently locked in a public spat with the president's ex-partner, while Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former chief of the International Monetary Fund, has been hit by several sexual lawsuits.
Ms Dati was the first politician of North African origin - her parents are Moroccan and Algerian - to hold a senior cabinet post in France.
After her appointment in June 2007 she became a star of Mr Sarkozy's cabinet and an emblem of glamour and diversity in the government. She held the post until June 2009.
But her private life has come under scrutiny in the media.
Le Point, a French weekly, recently ran a spread titled "The Incredible Tale of Rachida Dati".
She responded by announcing she would sue the magazine for what she said was "malicious gossip and calumny".
Franz-Olivier Giesbert, Le Point's director, told AFP he awaited the lawsuit "with a cool head and a little irony".