Earlier, the international MeToo movement dedicated to fighting harassment and sexual abuse has led to the ouster of prominent politicians, including party leaders and mayors, as well as the downfall of numerous celebrities.
Former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has accused former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing of groping her in her memoirs.
In an interview with Danish Radio, Thorning-Schmidt admitted that the ambition behind her new book, called “A Blonde’s Views” is to breathe new life into the MeToo debate and create a renewed focus on harassment and unsolicited sexual attention directed at women.
Among others, the memoir includes a pique against the late French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.
“I saw Giscard d’Estaing seated next to me and he grabbed my thigh under the table. It was completely crazy. I asked myself what was going on, I changed places and it was over,” the former Social Democrat leader wrote in her book, recounting a run-in with the former French president in Copenhagen at the beginning of the 00s.
At the time, Thorning-Schmidt was involved in the European Convention, created to draft a constitution for the EU and presided over by the former French leader, who died in December last year.
Thorning-Schmidt contended that while it wasn’t seen as sexual harassment at that time, she still saw it is “inappropriate” and became “very angry”.
“I name former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing because I think he can stand it. I’m pretty sure he’s done it before. Unfortunately, he has passed away and is no longer with us. But I also know that there have been cases in France about inappropriate behaviour, so I really feel it is completely fair to say who it was,” Thorning-Schmidt explained her point to Danish Radio.
Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who served as French president from 1974 to 1981, died in 2020 aged 94. However, Giscard d’Estaing had been accused of harassment before, including by German journalist Ann-Kathrin Stracke of the public broadcaster WDR. In a complaint filed last year, she said he touched her behind several times during an interview at his Paris office.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt (54) is often hailed as the first woman to lead a Danish government (2011-2015). After a decade as the Social Democrat leader, she ran the aid group Save the Children between 2016 and 2018.