French senator in custody on suspicion of spiking MP’s drink

French senator Joel Guerriau was taken into police custody Friday on suspicion of drugging an MP with a view to assaulting her.

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Prosecutors and sources familiar with the case told the French press agency AFP that Guerriau, a centrist senator from western France, was being held for “administering to a person, against their knowledge, a substance that could alter their discernment or the control of their actions in order to commit a rape or sexual assault”.

While the prosecutors named the victim as “a woman who filed a complaint”, several sources familiar with the case told AFP she was an MP in the National Assembly.

She allegedly felt strange after accepting a drink on Tuesday night at the 66-year-old senator’s Paris home. 

Prosecutors said the two were not in an intimate relationship.

Tests revealed that she had ecstasy in her system, investigators added, prompting her to file the criminal complaint.

Guerriau was arrested and held in custody under caught-in-the-act rules allowing police to override his parliamentary immunity, prosecutors said.

Broadcaster RMC, which first reported the story, said that police had searched his office and home, where prosecutors confirmed they found ecstasy.

‘Far from indecent’

Guerriau’s lawyer, Remi-Pierre Drai, said the truth of the case was “very far from the indecent interpretation that could be deduced from reading the initial press reports”.

He added that he was “outraged” to see information from the investigation in the press”.

“I’m amazed that the victim’s name has not been leaked, unlike my client’s,” he added.

Originally a banker, Guerriau has been a member of the Senate since 2011, and is deputy head of its foreign and military affairs committee.

Environment Minister Christophe Bechu, a leading figure in the Horizons party of which Guerriau is a member, on Friday told broadcaster FranceInter the senator would not be able to keep his position if there was “the slightest doubt” about his guilt.

Party chiefs were to hold a meeting early Saturday to discuss this situation. 

Horizons is led by former prime minister Edouard Philippe, now mayor of northern city Le Havre and one of France’s most popular politicians.

The party is allied with – but not part of – the ruling Renaissance party of President Emmanuel Macron.

Philippe is widely tipped to run in 2027 to succeed Macron, who will not be able to stand for a third time due to term limits.

The former prime minister joined Guerriau on the campaign trail for senatorial elections earlier this year.

(with newswires) French senator in custody on suspicion of spiking MP’s drink

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