France’s best-known green campaigner and former environment minister Nicolas Hulot said on Wednesday he was withdrawing from public life because of fresh rape and sexual abuse claims against him.
Hulot, accused of rape by the granddaughter of former French president Francois Mitterrand in 2018, announced he was the subject of a TV documentary in which he faced the new allegations.
In an interview on television channel BFM on Wednesday, he denounced the claims as “false accusations” but said he would leave his role as honorary head of his foundation “to protect them from the smears I am going to receive”.
He also vowed to stop giving interviews or speak publicly.
“I am bowing out once and for all from public life because I’m disgusted,” he added. “Why keep myself in the public eye which makes me suffer the worst a man can suffer?”
Hulot, a popular TV celebrity and long-time face of the Ushuaia nature programme, provided star power to President Emmanuel Macron’s first government as his environment minister when the centrist leader came to power in 2017.
But after serving for a year he quit abruptly during a live radio interview where he faced the first rape allegation, which he denied, and close scrutiny of his lifestyle.
After filing a declaration of his assets, as required by ministers before taking their jobs, press reports highlighted how the eco-warrior owned nine motor-engined vehicles, including an SUV.
At the time, he said he left because he felt “all alone” on environmental issues in an administration committed to the same economic model “that is the cause of all the problems”.
Pascale Mitterrand claimed Hulot raped her at one of his homes in northern France when she was 20.
She filed a police complaint in 2008, eleven years after the alleged crime, which saw Hulot questioned by police but not charged.
France’s EELV green party is struggling ahead of presidential elections next year, polling at around 7 to 8 percent in the first round.
You can watch the documentary, part of the Envoyé Spéciale series, on France 2 at 21:05 (French time) on Thursday 25th November.