The Court of Cassation on Tuesday canceled the magazine’s acquittal on appeal The Obs, sued for defamation by Marine Le Pen for a 2014 article on the so-called “Jeanne” affair, suspicions of overbilling campaign expenses for the National Front. This case, which has already experienced many procedural twists, will again have to be judged by the Paris Court of Appeal, by a new court formation, according to the judgment of the Court of Cassation.
2,000 euros in damages in 2016
In June 2016, the weekly was sentenced to a suspended fine of 500 euros and 2,000 euros in damages for having attributed personal enrichment to the president of the National Rally (FN at the time), in a file which concerned actually part of it. Entitled “The hidden treasure of Marine Le Pen”, the article published on December 11, 2014 wrote in particular: “Justice wonders if the president of the National Front is not the beneficiary of a system designed to divert money audience”.
The debate focused in particular on whether Marine Le Pen was implicated as party president or as a private person. In 2017, the Paris Court of Appeal acquitted the magazine but the Court of Cassation overturned this decision, sending the file back for a third trial which was held in May 2021 and at the end of which The Obs was released again. But in its judgment on Tuesday, the criminal chamber of the Court of Cassation considers that the court of appeal “did not justify its decision” in this judgment of May 2021.
Marine Le Pen only under assisted witness status
The article dated from the first suspicions of the so-called “campaign kits” case, entrusted to investigating judges in 2014, in which the FN and its entourage were suspected of having financed their electoral campaigns between 2012 and 2015 thanks to possible fraud to the detriment of the State which reimburses these expenses.
During the investigation, Marine Le Pen was never indicted but only an assisted witness and she was not sent back to court. On the other hand, the party, as well as several senior officials or relatives, were tried at the end of 2019. In June 2020, the court acquitted the party of the charges of fraud, condemning it only in a sub-part of this case. The prosecution has appealed and a new trial is due to open on September 19 for one month.