French ex-minister Nicolas Hulot accused of rape and sexual assault


A popular French environmentalist and former government minister faces new allegations of rape and sexual abuse after several woman came forward in a TV documentary to testify that he had assaulted them.

The claims come four years after Nicolas Hulot, 66, was first accused of rape by the granddaughter of the late Socialist president François Mitterrand.

In an interview given just before the documentary was aired on Thursday, Hulot strenuously denied the accusations and accused the women of lying. He said he was withdrawing definitively from public life.

The Paris public prosecutor, Laure Beccuau, on Friday announced a preliminary inquiry would be launched into the allegations. Whatever its findings, such an inquiry would not lead to any formal charges as the alleged events happened outside the time limit for prosecution.

Four women, described as unknown to each other, claimed on Envoyé spécial that they had been assaulted by Hulot.

Sylvia – who did not give her second name – broke down in tears as she described how Hulot forced her to perform oral sex in a vehicle in an open-air car park in May 1989 when she was 16.

“I was young, I’d never done anything like that. I didn’t understand what he wanted,” she said.

“I froze. I knew that what was happening shouldn’t be happening, that it was bad … I knew I was trapped and because I didn’t want to do what he was trying to make me do, I tried to lean back in the seat.”

She recalled what she said were his last words to her as he dropped her off in Paris: “He said a phrase that that has haunted me for years, he said: ‘Redo your makeup a bit because people can see you’ve been doing something.’ That’s all he said to me.

“I left, I didn’t know what had happened. Had I seduced him? Was it normal? Is that what adults do? I’ve kept this to myself for 30 years. I was a 16-year-old kid, he was Nicolas Hulot. Who was going to believe me?”

Hulot stood as a presidential candidate in 2012 and later served as the ecology transition minister in Emmanuel Macron’s first government between 2017 and 2018.

In 2018, when in his ministerial job, a magazine claimed he had raped the daughter of a high-profile figure, later revealed to be Pascale Mitterrand, the granddaughter of the late Socialist president. A few months later, Hulot resigned suddenly during a radio interview, citing a disagreement over the government’s environmental policy.

Mitterrand, who was in contact with Envoyé spécial but did not appear in the documentary, alleged to police that Hulot had raped her in Corsica in 1997 when she was 19 and a trainee photographer with the SIPA agency, whose founder is a close friend of Hulot.

Because the allegations were made out of the legal time limit, the investigation was closed.

Hulot, who was questioned by investigators, admitted he had sex with Mitterrand but said it was consensual. He began defamation proceedings against the magazine, but later dropped the action.

Another woman, named only as Cécile, claimed on Envoyé special that Hulot assaulted her in 1998 when she was 23 and was working at the French embassy in Moscow. She said she was sent to help Hulot – who told her he was a friend of the then president, Jacques Chirac – sort out a problem with customs officers when he arrived to make a documentary in Russia.

Later she said she was in a taxi with Hulot when “he jumped on me, tried to kiss me”. She said: “I slapped him. I did what I could. My ‘no’ was very clear. I made it very clear I didn’t want sexual relations with that man.”

Asked if she had envisaged making a police complaint then, she replied: “In Russia, in Moscow, against a friend of President Chirac. No, I didn’t even think of it. Of course not.”

A third woman, Claire Nouvian, who worked on one of Hulot’s shows, was warned to avoid being alone with the presenter and to lock her cabin door at night when they were out in a boat filming in Costa Rica.

She said two or three people had advised her: “Avoid situations where you are alone with him. If you’re working, it’s in the hotel restaurant, not in your room. When you are on the boat, lock your cabin at night. Don’t open if he knocks on your door at night, pretend to be asleep.” The film shoot passed without incident but she added: “There was an ecosystem around this personality that allowed this abuse.”

A fourth woman who worked with Hulot, but spoke anonymously, said he had suddenly grabbed her and “kissed me fully on the mouth” after a production meeting in 2001.

Hulot refused to speak to Envoyé spécial on camera, but told the programme in a telephone call: “You know very well that it will be word against word … and today the word of women is sacred. I have never in my life coerced anyone into anything. Never, neither by hand nor by force.”



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