Macron's ex-security aide defends 'lending a hand' to police: lawyers

Paris (AFP) –


Alexandre Benalla, the disgraced former security aide to President Emmanuel Macron, has defended taking part in a police operation during a May Day protest, saying he was "lending a hand", his lawyers said Monday.

Benalla, who has been charged with assault after videos emerged showing him striking a man during the protest, also claimed his acts were being exploited for "media and political ends".

"This personal initiative... is obviously being used to tarnish the president in circumstances that defy comprehension," his lawyers said in a statement.

His comments came as French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb and the Paris police chief defended their responses to the growing scandal.

Speaking before a parliamentary commission, both officials said they had learned of the video circulating on social media on May 2, the day after the violent protest in Paris.

Collomb said he had considered it was up to Benalla's superiors in Macron's office either to inform prosecutors or impose any punishment.