French National Front members expelled over laxative wine ‘prank’

SHAFAQNA – Two activists from France’s far-right National Front have been expelled for putting laxative in wine served to Louis Aliot, a deputy leader and domestic partner of Marine Le Pen, the party chief.

Jean-David Eyquem, a former youth leader for the Front in the Bordeaux area, and Jean-Baptiste Defrance, a former local council candidate, were excluded permanently from the populist movement for allegedly attempting to sabotage a press conference by Mr Aliot because of a dispute in the party over gay marriage, officials confirmed today.

Damien Obrador, a Front councillor for the town of Cabanac-et-Villagrains, near Bordeaux, was suspended for a year by the same disciplinary council, which sat in October.

The alleged action by the men, all in their 20s, is the latest embarrassment stemming from tension between the party’s homophobic traditionalists and the presence of a gay activists within its ranks.

The trio were alleged to have staged “pranks” to undermine the local appearance last May by Mr Aliot, 45. They unscrewed light bulbs, laced the wine, displayed texts by Mr Aliot’s party foes and staged an appearance at the press conference by past party figures who had been discredited by racism, it was alleged. They wanted to embarrass Jacques Colombiers, the local Front leader, whom they reproached for his hostility to France’s gay marriage law.

“These were pranks with bad taste aimed at destabilising Jacques Colombiers, Bruno Gollnisch, the Front’s former deputy leader, told the Metronews site. Mr Colombiers said that the three young critics had gone too far. “This was the final straw,” he added.

Mr Obrador upset Mr Colombiers and his southwestern section last March when he told VSD magazine that “50 per cent of the Front’s youth league in the Gironde are gay”. Yesterday on Twitter he said that he hoped for the party’s pardon and was outraged by the “defamatory accusations” against him.

Mr Aliot, a southwest France lawyer who has been the partner of the twice-divorced Ms Le Pen for five years, declined to comment on the alleged sabotage, pending completion of an investigation but he confirmed that the activists’ wine had been contaminated.

The FN’s conflict over gay marriage in the Gironde region mirrors tension in the party nationally which broke into the open in early December when Ms Le Pen recruited to the party Sebastien Chenu, founder of the French GayLib organisation and an official from Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative Union for a Popular Movement. In the same week the celebrity magazine Closer “outed” Florian Philippot, the party’s No 2 figure, as a homosexual. He won €50,000 (£39,000) in damages against Closer for breach of privacy last week.

Aymeric Chauprade, one of the Front’s 25 MEPs attacked Ms Le Pen for tolerating a “gay lobby” in the hard right movement, whose founder Jean-Marie Le Pen remains adamantly hostile to homosexual marriage and gay activists. His daughter has distanced herself from the anti-gay morally traditionalist wing whose figurehead now is Marion Maréchal Le Pen, 25, the Front’s youngest MP and her niece.

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