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French president bizarrely jokes fired bodyguard was not his ‘lover’

Lydia Smith July 26, 2018

A picture taken on July 14, 2018 shows French President Emmanuel Macron (R) walking ahead of then top security aide Alexandre Benalla at the end of the Bastille Day military parade in Paris. - French President Macron, trying to curb the most damaging scandal of his presidency so far, on July 20, 2018 fired a top security aide who has been taken into custody after videos emerged showing him strike a young man during a demonstration in Paris in May. The Elysee Palace said that Alexandre Benalla, 26, would be dismissed after "new elements" emerged in the case, namely that he is suspected of unlawfully receiving police surveillance footage in a bid to clear his name. A source close to the inquiry said that three police officers, including two high-ranking officials, have been suspended on suspicion of providing the footage to Benalla. He is facing charges of violence by a public official, impersonating a police officer and complicity in unauthorised use of surveillance footage, the Paris prosecutor's office said. (Photo by PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron has addressed MPs over the scandal involving his bodyguard who was filmed physically assaulting protesters.

Speaking to his party about Alexandre Benalla, who was filmed beating May Day demonstrators, Macron made reference to several rumours surrounding his former aide.

“Alexandre Benalla has never had the nuclear codes. Alexandre Benalla has never lived in a 300 square metre flat,” he said.

“Alexandre Benalla has never earned €10,000, neither has Alexandre Benalla ever been my lover.”

Macron addressed MPs about the Benalla scandal (Jack Taylor/Getty)

“Alexandre Benalla is someone who was with us during the [presidential] campaign, with lots of courage and engagement,” he said. “I do not forget that engagement and the service he gave me.”

He added the incident was a “disappointment and a betrayal.”

Macron’s comments to MPs refer to several fake news stories regarding his relationship with Benalla, who was his chief of security during his 2017 presidential campaign.

Benalla, a former presidential aide and bodyguard, has been charged with gang violence for allegedly assaulting a demonstrator at a May Day rally on May 1.

The incident, published by French newspaper Le Monde, shows Benalla impersonating a police office and hitting a man on the Place de la Contrescarpe in Paris before leaving.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 29: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks a Press conference after a meeting of European Union leaders at the Chancellery on June 29, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The leaders are meeting head of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg.on June 29, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)
Macron made reference to fake news stories (Getty)

The Elysee Palace, the official resident of the president, kept the assault quiet for more than two months despite knowing about the incident the following day.

Last year, Macron publicly addressed widespread rumours he was having an affair with the president of France Radio Mathieu Gallet.

“I am who I am, I have never had anything to hide,” he told a meeting of supporters in Paris in February 2017.

“I hear people saying that I have a secret life or something. It’s not nice for Brigitte (his wife) and because I share all my days and nights with her, she asks me how do I manage it,” he said.

“If over dinners in the city, if on forwarded emails, you’re told that I have a double life with Mathieu Gallet or anyone else – then it’s my hologram that suddenly escaped, but it can’t be me,” he joked.

An opinion poll published this week showed 60 percent of the French public are dissatisfied with Macron, which is the highest figure since he took office last May.

More: Alexandre Benalla, Emmanuel Macron, France

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