Ian Brodie with Reuters: Éric Dupond-Moretti, France’s combative and allegedly vindictive Minister of Justice, has been cleared by the Court of Cassation of conflicts of interest.

One of his alleged misdemeanours was the judicial pursuit of a former judge in Monaco, Édouard Levrault, according to prosecutors. Me Levrault had previously been involved in a case concerning one of Dupond-Moretti’s former clients.

In September, Me Levrault had been hauled before 12 judges at a disciplinary hearing charged with “breaches of the duties of prudence, delicacy and caution” (« manquements aux devoirs de prudence, de délicatesse et de réserve »). He made a spirited self-defence and was cleared.

Édouard Levrault, an anti-corruption campaigner, 45, is still working in the area, currently serving as vice-president of the Nice criminal court.

Between 2019 and 2021 he gave a number of newspaper and TV interviews in which he painted an unflattering picture of the workings of the French judiciary in relation to the Monaco judicial system.

Dupond-Moretti had remained in office during the investigation and trial but a guilty verdict would have put pressure on President Emmanuel Macron, who swept to power in 2017 promising to clean up politics, to fire his minister.

He will stay on as justice minister, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said as she welcomed the ruling on Wednesday, November 29.

Dupond-Moretti, who denied any wrongdoing during the trial, left the court without making any comment. His lawyers said the ruling “ends years of (the minister) being falsely accused.”

The hard left political party France Insoumise (France Unbowed) criticised the acquittal, saying it showed that the special tribunal, presided over by both judges and lawmakers, should be scrapped.

Jerome Karsenti, a lawyer for the anti-corruption association Anticor, said the special court was too lenient with those in power.

Since its creation in 1993, the Cour de Justice de la Republique has held only nine formal trials, including Dupond-Moretti’s.

Past defendants have included former finance minister and current head of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde. In 2016, she was found guilty of negligence over a government payout. She escaped punishment and kept her job at the IMF.

Me Levrault has said in his defence that the reason he gave the media interviews was to defend the independence of French magistrates seconded to Monaco.

PHOTO: Éric Dupond-Moretti leaving court on Wednesday