A criminal enquiry has been launched after an arson attack on the home of the President of France’s National Assembly.
Richard Ferrand, who is the equivalent of the Speaker in Britain’s House of Commons and a close personal friend of President Emmanuel Macron, described the attack on the property in his Brittany constituency as ‘violence and intimidation’.
The National Gendarmerie discovered a blanket, tire residue and a homemade torch soaked in fuel on the site, leaving ‘the criminal origin in no doubt,’ according to a statement from Mr Ferrand’s office.
The attack follows months of regular disturbances by the Yellow Vest anti-government movement, who have been behind similar blazes.
Scorched living room of the property in Motreff, which is in the Finistere department of Brittany
They were back on the streets of major cities including Paris on Saturday for an ‘Act 13’ of demonstrations that frequently turn into riots.
Responding to the blaze, President Macron said: ‘Nothing justifies violence or intimidation against an elected representative of the Republic. All my solidarity with Richard Ferrand and his family.’
In turn, Mr Ferrand, 56, posted two photos of the damage to the home in Motreff, which is in the Finistere department of Brittany.
Mr Ferrand aid he was signing official documents in Rennes, Brittany, when the attack happened on Friday. Nobody was hurt
Mr Ferrand was not in the house, which he shares with his partner – the lawyer Sandrine Doucen- at the time, and nobody was hurt.
A statement released through his parliamentary office said he was signing official documents in Rennes, Brittany, when the attack happened on Friday.
‘A neighbour noted that his home located in Motreff, in his constituency of Finistere, had been the target of an arson attack,’ the statement reads.
‘The National Gendarmerie discovered a blanket, a tyre particle, and a homemade torch soaked in fuel,’ adding that ‘the criminal origin does not seem in doubt.’
Richard Ferrand looks on during a session at the French National Assembly in Paris, on December 5, 2018
‘A neighbour noted that his home located in Motreff, in his constituency of Finistere, had been the target of an arson attack,’ a statement from Mr Ferrand’s parliamentary office read
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said: ‘Shame on those who commit such acts, and friendly support to the Speaker of the National Assembly and his family.’
‘The National Rally and I condemn these facts with the utmost vigor and express our full support for the President of the National Assembly in the face of this aggression,’ said Marine Le Pen of the opposition.
‘The arson in Richard Ferrand’s home is an extremely serious and totally unacceptable act,’ denounced the president of the National Rally party.
Christophe Castaner, France’s Interior Minister, has regularly condemned acts of political intimidation by the Yellow Vests.
They have included politicians’ homes being targeted, and toll booths on major motorways being burned down.
He said forensic police officers were combing the damage of the Motreff fire in an attempt to find those responsible.
The Yellow Vests have no official leader, or spokesmen, and have not yet made any comment on the fire.
The National Gendarmerie (pictured) discovered a cover, tire residue and a homemade torch soaked in fuel on the site
But prosecutors have made it clear that their involvement would be an obvious line of enquiry during a period of high social disorder.
Jean-Philippe Recappe, the Brest prosecutor, said: ‘This is criminal arson. There is no doubt’.
The Yellow Vests – who are named after the high visibility motoring jackets they all wear – started out as protest movement against rising fuel prices on November 17 last year.
Since then they have been behind numerous violent protests, and acts of intimidation, and are now calling on President Macron to resign.
The independent politician came to power in May 2017, but his popularity rating has plummeted since then, as people question the reform programme being initiated by his La Republique En Marche (The Republic On the Move) party.
General view of the house of President of the French National Assembly Richard Ferrand, in Motreff, western France