THE SCAN SPORT – Suspected of favoritism towards the club of Montpellier, the president of the French Federation of rugby had continued in defamation the daily newspaper.
The president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte, suspected of favoritism towards the club of Montpellier, property of the businessman Mohed Altrad, lost Thursday the defamation suit brought to the newspaper L'Equipe. The Paris Criminal Court found that the defamatory nature of the impugned remarks was "established" in that they could undermine the honor and consideration of the former Secretary of State, but relaxed the newspaper for the benefit of of "good faith".
The FFR will not appeal the decision
"The subject treated, namely the presumed pressures exerted by the president of a major sports federation, in the context of a disciplinary procedure, represents a legitimate aim of expression and also a subject of general interest", according to the decision consulted byAFP. "The FFR fully respects the findings of the TGI and will not appeal," said the institution in a statement.
In October 2017, Bernard Laporte attacked in libel the editor of the sports daily and the journalist Frédéric Bernes, author of four articles published between August 30 and October 18. In these publications, including one called "Laporte, the phone call trap", the newspaper stated that the president of the FFR had intervened with the federal appeal commission which, on June 30, 2017, had reduced the sanctions taken in first instance against Montpellier club, led by Mohed Altrad. After his election at the head of the FFR, Bernard Laporte had signed, on a personal basis, with the billionaire an image contract for an amount of 150,000 euros. Faced with accusations of conflict of interest, he finally gave up.
Since the revelation of the case, more than half of the thirteen members of the appeal board of the FFR have resigned. At the hearing last May, it was learned that the three members of the commission that imposed the sanctions on the club were heard last February by the investigators of the Economic Crime Brigade. In this case, Bernard Laporte admitted having phoned Jean-Daniel Simonet, chairman of the commission, but to "give a political light" on the crisis shaking French rugby, not to put pressure.
At the hearing, heard as a witness, the third member of the commission, Philippe Peyramaure, confirmed the information published by The Team, "Namely that it had been decided to confirm the sanction at first during the session of June 29", then that he had "received a phone call the day after Jean-Daniel Simonet, telling him that Bernard Laporte was not happy. For the court, "these statements give credibility not only to the existence of telephone contact but also to its content, that is to say, to tell the disciplinary body not to press on with sanctions, which may legitimately suggest the existence of pressure. "
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