Why is Jean-Marie Le Pen under legal protection and how does it work?

It could mean that the former FN leader will not have to appear in court to answer claims of misappropriation of EU funds

A view of Jean-Marie Le Pen surrounded by crowds after a press conference in 2012
Former FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen is now aged 95 and frail

Jean-Marie Le Pen - founder of far-right political party le Front National (now le Rassemblement National, RN) - is under ‘legal protection’, with his interests managed by his three daughters, it has emerged.

Mr Le Pen is now aged 95. 

Vice-president of the RN, Louis Aliot, confirmed the news today (April 3) to RMC, and Mr Le Pen’s lawyer François Wagner has also confirmed that his client is subject to a ‘future protection mandate’.

Read more:  ‘New’ RN party is still FN wolf in sheep’s clothing

What does this mean? 

A ‘future protection mandate’ designates one or more people who are appointed to make decisions for the protected person, if they are no longer able to manage their own interests as and when necessary. This is defined by the government website Service-public.fr.

These ‘interests’ may include helping to manage personal life, health decisions, and/or the management of all or part of an estate. 

In the UK, a similar arrangement is sometimes known as having ‘power of attorney’.

Who are the designated family members?

Jean-Marie Le Pen’s three daughters are those appointed in the mandate. They are Marie-Caroline, Yann, and Marine. The latter is now the leader of the (rebranded) party founded by her father.

Read more: What is Le Pen’s ‘French nationals first’ policy and is it legal?

Why is this of interest now?

The measure could mean that Mr Le Pen will not have to appear in court this September, in connection with an alleged scheme, in which he and 26 other people linked to the RN are suspected of taking part, to misappropriate European public funds between 2004 and 2016.

RN vice-president Mr Aliot (who is also a former partner of Marine Le Pen) said: "He is a man who is tired. He is now under legal protection and it is his children who are involved in managing his affairs. I think the court will have to rule that he can neither attend nor testify at this trial.” 

The Paris Criminal Court is now set to gather the opinion of medical experts, and is due to rule on this point on July 3.