A former President of France who has always hinted at having an affair with Princess Diana was tonight (TUES) at the centre of a sexual assault investigation.
Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the 94-year-old who was head of state between 1974 and 1981, is accused of touching a female journalist intimately and without her consent.
Le Monde on Tuesday reported that Mr Giscard d’Estaing carried out the alleged assault on Ann-Kathrin Stracke, a 37-year-old reporter with the German public broadcaster WDR.
Ms Stracke has waived her right to anonymity in the reporting of the sex assault complaint, which was sent to Paris prosecutors in March.
Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing (left) shares a joke with Princess Diana during dinner at the at the Chateau de Versailles in 1994
It was on December 18, 2018, that Ms. Stracke had an appointment with the retired politician at his office in central Paris.
The interview was on the 100th anniversary of the birth of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who was a world leader at the same time as Mr Giscard d’Estaing.
The late Princess Diana became an international celebrity at the end of Mr Giscard d’Estaing’s term of office, and the pair are said to have become close after meeting at official and charity engagements.
During the 2018 incident, Ms Stracke asked Mr Giscard d’Estaing to pose for a photo with her, and then ‘the former president wrapped his arms around her, touched her waist, and placed his hand on her buttock,’ the complaint reads.
Ms Stracke said: ‘Very surprised and disapproving of these attacks which made me extremely uncomfortable, I tried to push back the hand of Mr. Giscard d’Estaing, without however succeeding.’
The first photo was of poor quality, so Ms Stracke posed for another one, and was again touched around the waist and buttocks.
‘I felt like he insisted,’ she said, claiming that there was a third assault when Mr Giscard d’Estaing touched her bottom again while showing her some photographs.
Ms Stracke tried to free her attacker’s hand, ‘several times and with all my strength,’ the complaint reads.
Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the 94-year-old who was head of state between 1974 and 1981, is accused of touching a female journalist intimately and without her consent
As the ‘degrading’ assault continued, her cameraman then allegedly tried to create a diversion by overturning the lampshade of a lamp located on a sideboard and placing a chair between the ex-president and Ms. Stracke.
When she left the offices, Mr. Giscard d’Estaing insisted on kissing Ms Stracke while whispering in German ‘Sweet dreams’.
When Ms Stracke got back to Cologne, her bosses told Ms Stracke to file a 13-page complaint to Mr Giscard d’Estaing.
It reads: ‘Ms Stracke was extremely shocked by your actions*We cannot allow our employees to be confronted with such situations and therefore very much hope that such behaviour will not be repeated towards any of them in the future.’
Then Ms Stracke decided to complain to prosecutors, saying: ‘At first, I didn’t think about filing a complaint, especially since I had no idea how French justice works.’
But when the £MeToo movement – one aimed at exposing high profile sex abusers across the world – became more influential, she decided to act.
‘This movement has shown me how important it is to debate these issues in society,’ said Ms Stracke.
Her account about the alleged attack by Mr. Giscard d’Estaing is supported by her cameraman, but a sound recordist who was also in the room has refused to testify.
Contacted by Le Monde, Olivier Revol, Mr. Giscard d’Estaing’s office manager, said the former president had ‘no memory of his meeting’ with Mrs. Stracke.
‘If what is alleged against him was true, he would of course be sorry, but he does not remember anything,’ Mr. Revol added.
It was in 2009 that Mr Giscard d’Estaing wrote a romance novel called ‘The Princess and the President’.
It was about an affair between a French president and a thinly veiled British royal – Patricia, Princess of Cardiff, or ‘Lady Pat’.
At the time, there was intense speculation in the French media that Mr Giscard d’Estaing was describing a tryst with Princess Diana in the 1980s.
Mr Giscard d’Estaing was in office in 1981, when Diana married Prince Charles, and they regularly met at official and charity engagements.
The novel’s epigraph read ‘Promise kept’, and at the end Patricia says: ‘You asked my permission to write your story. I grant it to you, but you must make me a promise*’
Neither Mr Giscard d’Estaing nor Princess Diana, who died in Paris in 1997, ever commented on their alleged affair.
Like most French presidents, Mr Giscard d’Estaing was well known for his passionate liasions with numerous beautiful women.
He was married to his cousin, Anne-Aymone Sauvage de Brantes, and they had four children together, before her death in 1981.
Mr Giscard d’Estaing’s turbulent private life was regularly the subject of reports in France’s national press.