France opens probe after two hard-left MPs falsely accused of exploiting migrant

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French prosecutors said Thursday they have opened an investigation into fraud over an article that falsely accused two hard-left MPs of exploiting an undocumented migrant in their home.

Weekly Le Point newspaper was forced to take down the story about prominent France Unbowed (LFI) MPs Raquel Garrido and her husband Alexis Corbiere the day after it was published last week, citing “errors and failures.”

The controversy has increased political tensions in France where LFI leader Jean-Luc Melenchon is spearheading the new NUPES left-wing alliance that made gains in parliamentary elections this month.

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The story had falsely claimed that the couple – who have championed migrants’ rights – employed a 36-year-old Algerian woman “night and day” and included details of texts allegedly sent by Garrido to the woman.

“We put a roof over your head, we give you work so either you’re grateful or I’ll employ someone else, enough is enough,” said one of the texts cited by the article.

The couple immediately published a statement which said “everything is false” and filed complaints for forgery, fraud and identity fraud.

“Some people clearly tried to sell a false story to discredit Raquel Garrido and Alexis Corbiere,” Le Point said in the aftermath, and admitted the alleged texts between the cleaner and MP were a “crude fake.”

The couple’s lawyer Xavier Sauvignet welcomed the opening of the probe, saying it would establish “what the purpose was” of creating the fake messages and indicated the attack against the couple had a “political purpose.”

Le Point apologized to the couple, opened an internal investigation and the journalist who wrote the story Aziz Zemouri has been suspended.

Zemouri on Tuesday filed a complaint against right-wing UDI former MP Jean-Christophe Lagarde and a policeman who works at a town hall whose mayor is Lagarde’s wife.

Garrido, 48, was elected MP in the northern suburb of Paris Seine-Saint-Denis after defeating Lagarde in the second round of this month’s parliamentary polls.

Zemouri said the police officer contacted him at the end of May to put him in contact with a woman allegedly working for the LFI MPs.

France Unbowed made major gains in the legislative elections, winning 75 MPs in the polls that saw French President Emmanuel Macron lose his majority.

Le Point, widely seen as sympathetic to Macron, has published articles highly critical of the hard-left in France.

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