French budget minister Darmanin questioned over rape allegations

Paris prosecutors last month reopened an investigation into claims that Darmanin, 35, pressured a woman into sex in return for promising to help clear her name in a legal dispute.

The case comes in the midst of a global outpouring of accounts of sexual harassment and rape unleashed by the Harvey Weinstein affair.

Sophie Spatz, a 46-year-old former call girl, made a first complaint against Darmanin in mid-2017 but the investigation was closed soon after when she failed to attend questioning by the police.

In mid-January she renewed her complaint, triggering a new preliminary inquiry.

Darmanin’s lawyers have accused her of a “crude attempt to harm” the minister’s reputation and said he was suing her for slander.

Government officials have rallied in support of Darmanin, fending off calls for his resignation.

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