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L'Oréal reporters' computers stolen

Three thefts at news organisations that broke stories about L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her links to the UMP

JOURNALISTS at three news organisations investigating links between France's richest woman and Nicolas Sarkozy's political party have had their computers stolen, it has emerged.

Investigative website Mediapart, which broke the Liliane Bettencourt party funding story and has led a string of exclusives since, revealed that it had been the victim of a break-in.

Secret recordings from the L'Oréal heiress's home that were leaked to the site by a former butler went missing earlier this month, as well as two laptop computers and an external disk drive.

The theft happened on October 7; Médiapart lodged a formal police complaint at the time, but decided not to go public - until now.

It changed its mind after two other journalists, working for Le Monde and Le Point, revealed this week that they, too, had computers stolen.

Le Point journalist Hervé Gattegno said his computer had been stolen from work on Saturday. On the same day, Le Monde journalist Gérard Davet reported a break-in at his home.

Médiapart said there was "a common theme linking all of these journalists: their articles had strongly displeased the powers".

Mediapart's reports over the summer started the UMP party funding scandal. The site had obtained recordings of conversations between Mrs Bettencourt and her financial adviser, which mentioned labour minister and then UMP treasurer Eric Woerth.

The site also published an exclusive interview with Mrs Bettencourt’s former accountant Claire Thibout, who claimed she was involved in illegally funelling €150,000 towards the ruling UMP party.

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