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Élysée aide quits over media claims

New blow to President François Hollande, as aide quits amid media allegations of a 'conflict of interests'

ONE OF President François Hollande’s political aides has resigned amid conflict of interest allegations and claims he abused his position at the Élysée Palace.

Aquilino Morelle quit following advice from Prime Minister Manuel Valls during a meeting at Matignon this morning, it has emerged.

Mr Morelle denied allegations made by that he had ever “been in a situation of a conflict of interest” during his time at the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (IGAS), but said he had decided to “end his duties to be entirely free to respond to the attacks” against him.

Mediapart claimed that Mr Morelle received €12,500 for acting as a consultant for Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck while he was at IGAS.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Mr Morelle said that he had “followed all the rules and all procedures”.

He added that his role as a civil servant meant that, “there are a certain number of outside activities which are permitted by the law, including education and advice”.

IGAS refuted his claim, saying in a statement that: “there has been no request for authorisation for activities or consulting expertise for the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry in recent years."

Mr Morelle confirmed another Mediapart claim that the two chauffeurs at his disposal sometimes collected his son from school.

The resignation is another blow to beleaguered President Hollande, who is struggling with record low approval ratings.

When he came to office in 2012, the President vowed that his government would act ethically and responsibly.

But, last year, budget minister Jerome Cahuzac was forced to quit after after judges in Paris opened an investigation into claims he had avoided tax by holding an illegal undeclared bank account in Switzerland.

That scandal prompted the President to enact new laws on conflicts of interest.

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