Valérie Trierweiler’s boss says she has caused “nothing but trouble” at the magazine where she works since becoming France’s first lady, according to a new book.
Arnaud Lagardère, billionaire owner of Paris Match, the glossy weekly, allegedly viewed the 47-year-old divorcee as “an unpinned grenade” whose contract he did not wish to renew at the end of the year.
The comments come from a new biography on the controversial 51-year old arms and media tycoon by journalist Jacqueline Remy, extracts of which were published in Marianne magazine yesterday.
In Arnaud Lagardère, The Heir Who Wanted To Live His Life, Remy said she asked him whether having the French first lady as an employee was a benefit.
“Are you kidding?” he is quoted as replying. “Up until now, she’s caused us nothing but trouble!”
Mr Lagardère is cited as saying in June that her contract would not be renewed when it expired at the end of the year. He justified his decision by saying he wanted “to avoid any conflict of interest” between her journalistic activities and role as President François Hollande’s partner.
The comments were made just weeks after Miss Trierweiler had attacked her own magazine for putting her picture on its front cover without informing her first and calling her Mr Hollande’s “charming asset”.
After publicly branding her employer “sexist”, she is said to have fired off a threatening message to Mr Lagardère and his media chief warning: “We won’t be doing any more articles with the group.” The implication was that Mr Hollande would blackball Paris Match.
Despite the row, Mr Lagardère later changed his mind over not renewing Miss Trierweiler’s contract, agreeing to keep her on after Mr Hollande assured him that “she isn’t really a first lady”, according to the book.
Miss Trierweiler, a one-time political journalist who met Mr Hollande while covering his Socialist party, now only writes a literary column in Paris Match.
Mr Lagardère is known to be close to former president Nicolas Sarkozy, and is said to have dismissed his former editor after he used photos of Mr Sarkozy’s second wife Cecilia and her lover Richard Attias in New York on the front cover.
The latest negative comments are the last thing Miss Trierweiler needs as she tries to rebuild her battered reputation after months of controversy that have seen her popularity plummet.
Just weeks after Mr Hollande took office, his girlfriend sparked outrage by tweeting her support for a candidate standing in parliamentary elections against Ségolène Royal, the mother of the president’s four children.
Miss Royal lost the election and blamed Miss Trierweiler for wrecking her political career.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the prime minister, told Miss Trierweiler that she should “know her place” and Mr Hollande’s four children refused to talk to her anymore.
Mr Hollande publicly rebuked her tweet in July, saying: “I am for a clear distinction between public and private life. I believe private matters should be regulated in private and I have asked those close to me to respect this.”
She has said she “deeply regrets” the tweet, but has come in for more criticism in a slew of biographies – the most recent which claims she was in a ménage à trois with Mr Hollande and a former Right-wing minister while married.
Another book by journalist Anna Cabana called Between a Rock and Hard Place (Entre Deux Feux) describes Miss Trierweiler as being “a cocktail of jealousy, vengeance and political calculation”.
Her predecessor Carla Bruni-Sarkozy last month advised her to marry Mr Hollande and become his “legitimate wife”, saying it would make her role easier.
She also criticised her decision to remain a journalist, saying: “(Journalism) is supposed to be a counter-power – that’s even one of its prime purposes to me.”