Embattled Labour Minister Woerth ‘will not resign’
French Labour Minister Eric Woerth has repeated he would not resign because of a deepening political scandal in which he and President Nicolas Sarkozy are accused of receiving illegal campaign contributions from France’s richest woman.
French Labour Minister Eric Woerth said Tuesday he would not give into what he called a political conspiracy that is being organised against the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy by tendering his resignation, during an interview with TF1 television.
The deepening scandal, which has gripped the nation in recent days, reached the country’s highest office on Tuesday when Bettencourt’s former personal accountant, Claire Thibout, told French news site Mediapart that the heiress had illegally contributed 150,000 euros in cash to Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign, through Eric Woerth.
In the Mediapart interview the former accountant also said illegal cash donations were routinely handed out to politicians for years at the Bettencourt residence in the rich suburb of Neuilly and that Nicolas Sarkozy, then mayor of Neuilly, was a regular recipient of these disbursements.
“I never touched a single euro and I am shocked. This woman who accuses me and accuses the president, I’ve never met her,” insisted Woerth.
In Paris, a parliamentary debate turned ugly when Budget Minister Francois Baroin accused the opposition of doing the work of the far right in pursuing the scandal, prompting a walk-out by Socialist deputies.