The big surprise of the new French administration after a reshuffle, is the appointment of the very mediatic lawyer at the Ministry of Justice, Éric Dupond-Moretti.
The announcement of the new government of Jean Castex on Monday June 6 at the start of the evening also included the next Minister of Justice. The most visible lawyer in France, who defended terrorist Abdelkader Merah, is a flashy (and divisive) personality in the world of justice.
Dupont-Moretti will be replacing Nicole Belloubet at the ministry. The choice elicited negative reactions from professionals in the field as well as from political figures.
After the official announcement, Marine Le Pen denounced his appointment. “At the Justice Ministry is appointed an activist from the far left who wants to ban the RN, the largest opposition party. This is really something… ” she wrote on Twitter.
In May 2015, Éric Dupond-Moretti had indeed suggested during an interview on France Inter that “the FN [was] not a republican party” and that it was necessary “to ban it”.
Céline Parisot, president of the Magistrates’ Union, told Franceinfo that the appointment of the lawyer at the ministry was “a declaration of war against the judiciary”. “This time it’s serious,” she said. The president of the USM said she did not understand how one can name “such a divisive personality, who despises magistrates to such an extent, […] who does not hesitate to insult them, who wishes the abolition of their school”.
On October 31, 2016, advised by the King of Morocco Mohammed VI , the lawyer took over the case of the Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred accused of sexual assault and rape, with the attorney’s fees paid by the Moroccan palace. In 2018, and without giving the reasons, Dupond-Moretti declared that he would no longer represent the singer after a second rape complaint filed against Lamjarred in Saint-Tropez.
On February 6, 2017, the lawyer announced that he was representing the black drug dealer Théo, an alleged victim of “rape” with a baton by 4 police officers during his arrest in Aulnay-sous-Bois. The lawyer’s arguments led to violent riots.
Already in December 2008, he held the record for acquittals obtained on French territory. Many magistrates view him as a “courtroom terrorist”, French weekly Le Point reported.
In 2020, Dupond-Moretti joined the international defense team of Julian Assange.
As soon as his appointment was announced, the Elysee Palace announced that Eric Dupond-Moretti had chosen to withdraw the complaint he had recently filed in the Nicolas Sarkozy “wiretapping” affair.
In February 2014, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office had actually asked for a scan of the lawyer’s telephone bills, as well as those of a dozen of his colleagues. The new minister had filed a complaint for “violation of privacy and the secrecy of correspondence” and “abuse of authority”.
The sudden withdrawal has led to rumours about the lawyer’s involvement in irregular activities and political schemes.
And while the new Prime Minister had announced that he would deliver his first general policy speech “in the middle of next week”, the Elysée quickly contradicted him.
Emmanuel Macron is already meddling in the work of his new Prime Minister. The first hiccup in the communication between the Elysée and Jean Castex did not take long to happen, reported French daily Le Figaro.
During his first television interview at 8pm on TF1, on Friday July 3, Jean Castex declared that he would deliver his general policy speech “in the middle of next week”. His promise was widely reported by the media. But on Sunday, July 5, the Elysee Palace announced that Emmanuel Macron would speak on July 14, “probably in the context of a television interview” and that the new Prime Minister would speak only “a few days after” him.
The departure of Edouard Philippe and the appointment of Jean Castex were welcomed by the opposition as the arrival of a collaborating “technocrat” at the Elysee Palace.
The mayor of Le Havre, Edouard Philippe, increasingly popular, had clearly constituted a threat to Macron. For president of the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI) Jean-Christophe Lagarde, “the appointment of Jean Castex to Matignon, after Edouard Philippe refused to follow [Emmanuel Macron, Editor’s note] in his spending shift is a clear message. The president wants to govern alone and prepare directly for the presidential election”.