Health minister to run for Paris mayor as Macron ally quits

Agnès Buzyn enters race after Benjamin Griveaux withdraws over sexting scandal

Agnes Buzyn. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

Agnes Buzyn. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

 

French health minister Agnes Buzyn will run for Paris mayor after the previous ruling party candidate pulled out over a sexting scandal, party officials said on Sunday.

Ms Buzyn, a doctor who has been leading France’s response to the coronavirus, had put her name forward, a source close to President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party told Reuters.

“Agnes Buzyn is deeply keen to get involved in Paris. She has convinced us,” party member Mounir Mahjoubi, a former minister, posted on Twitter.

Ms Buzyn (58), will have to reinvigorate a campaign blown off course when Benjamin Griveaux, one of Macron’s closest lieutenants, pulled out of the race on Friday after it was alleged he sent sexual images to a woman.

Mr Griveaux, one of the “Macron boys” group that helped propel the former investment banker into power in 2017 – said he and his family had been subjected to months of anonymous statements defaming him.

A Russian dissident artist, Pyotr Pavlensky, published screenshots of an online chat he said was between Mr Griveaux and a woman who is not his wife. Mr Griveaux has not disputed that he sent the messages.

French politicians from all camps denounced the leak of private material, which many said constituted an unacceptable Americanisation of politics in France, where politicians’ private lives have long been considered off limits.

Mr Pavlensky and his partner were taken into custody on Sunday as part of an investigation into the videos after Mr Griveaux filed a complaint, new agency AFP reported, citing prosecutors.

The pair were taken into custody on Saturday afternoon as they left a Paris hotel. They are being questioned over accusations of invasion of privacy and “broadcasting images of a sexual nature without the permission of the person involved”.

Detectives arrested the pair after Mr Griveaux lodged a legal complaint following the release of videos of him performing a sex act on himself.