French environment minister resigns over lavish lifestyle claims

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 François de Rugy

Francois de Rugy withdrew from his position on Tuesday after a week of pressure heaped on him. Reports published last week suggested he had lived a lavish lifestyle off the back of French taxpayers.

De Rugy said on his Facebook page he resigned because the “effort required to fight the accusations” meant that he could no longer carry out his ministerial duties “peacefully.”

“I would like to thank the president of the Republic and the prime minister for the trust they have shown in me,” De Rugy added. In his resignation post, de Rugy also said he had filed a criminal complaint against Mediapart, the investigative site that initially published the allegations.

The Elysee Palace said late Tuesday that he would be replaced by Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne.

François de Rugy and President Emmanuel MacronFrancois de Rugy was previously president of the lower house of parliament.

Lobster and expensive wine

Mediapart revealed last week that, in his former position of president of the lower house of parliament, he and his wife hosted friends for at least 12 luxury dinners. Much of the time he served up lobster and wine costing between €100 and €550 ($113 to $619) a bottle.

He held the role of president of the lower house of parliament between June 2017 and September 2018.

Mediapart also alleged that de Rugy had used €63,000 of taxpayer’s money to fund renovations on his government-provided apartment. The flat is located on the upmarket Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris.

Read more: Opinion: France’s Emmanuel Macron faces bumpy road to reform

De Rugy argued the dinners were for political and business leaders, and formed part of his role as leader of the legislature.

Yellow Vest protestersThe yellow vest movement has been protesting since last year what they see as an elitist government

Increased pressure

The spotlight on de Rugy and his subsequent resignation has intensified pressure on Macron’s government. Opposition parties and critics have long labeled his government as being out of touch with ordinary French people.

The yellow vests have been protesting his policies since November 2018.