Fatal plane crash near Nantes: brother of French singer among victims

Gérard Leclerc was one of France’s most prominent political commentators, and half-brother of singer Julien Clerc

Gérard Leclerc (left) was a political commentator and the half-brother of singer Julien Clerc
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Well-known French political commentator Gérard Leclerc died yesterday (August 15), after a plane he was in crash landed near the city of Nantes.

He was the half-brother of singer Julien Clerc, a household name in France with such songs as Ma Préférence and Ce n’est Rien. His albums have sold more than 10 million copies in France.

Mr Leclerc, 71, was one of the country’s chief political correspondents, and had worked as a political correspondent for almost 40 years at some of France’s biggest media outlets, including state-owned France Télévisions.

The crash happened near Lavau-sur-Loire, a commune bordering the Loire estuary between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire.

Saint-Nazaire’s public prosecutor stated last night that “no bodies have been found,” yet in the search, but debris from the aircraft was found near a lock in the commune.

There were “one or two other passengers” on board the plane, alongside a pilot, including Michèle Monory, daughter of the former President of the Senate René Monory.

Two investigations into the accident have been opened.

Exact circumstances of accident unclear

Little information about the accident has been given, although the public prosecutor in Saint-Nazaire confirmed the death of all those involved.

Local media reports on the accident, and information from the local flying club Mr Leclerc was a part of, said he was piloting the glider plane when it crashed, but this has not yet been officially confirmed.

The pilot of the aircraft announced to the air traffic controller in Nantes that they were leaving the airport’s airspace but never announced their arrival into the airspace of Saint-Nazaire.

“The pilot did not send any distress message. The flight data available to us shows the flight path until 11:42am when it disappeared from radar,” said the public prosecutor.

“It was then located near Lavau-sur-Loire,” it added.

The plane was found submerged several metres into the water, in an area known for “very strong currents, which are reported to have made searching the wreckage difficult.

Tributes pour in

Media outlets in France were quick to pay tribute to the journalist, who was at the centre of the political commentary sphere in the country.

After his work at France Télévisions, Mr Leclerc was also the head of La Chaîne Parlementaire, a political TV channel, for a number of years, and then a chief political editor at CNews, a private news channel in France.

Canal+ posted on X (previously Twitter) of the company’s “immense sadness” at learning of his passing, and they would run a special show about Mr Leclerc today.

Fellow journalist Pascal Praud, who worked with Gérard Leclerc at CNews, also paid tribute.

“Gérard Leclerc was an honest man. He was also a beautiful person. I loved his intelligence, his humour, his distance. I liked our complicity, I liked our disagreements, but above all I liked having him on the set,” he posted on X.

Former president François Hollande called him “a great man… Cultivated, rigorous, elegant.”

Read more: Airbus and Air France cleared over plane crash that killed 228 people

Half-brother of singing star

Mr Leclerc’s wife, Julie Leclerc, was also a TV and radio host, who worked for Europe 1 for over 40 years.

Referring to his singing brother he said in 2008: “It's a good thing I don't have any singing talent. It would have bored me to have been in [my brother’s] shadow.”

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