Dismissal of Paris Chief of Police: A Witch Hunt or Mere Change of Government?

Manuel Valls dismissed Paris Police Chief Michel Gaudin.Photo: Flickr.com/fondapol

Manuel Valls dismissed Paris Police Chief Michel Gaudin.
Photo: Flickr.com/fondapol

PARIS – Last Tuesday, before taking off to Madrid to meet his Spanish counterpart George Fernandez Diaz, Manuel Valls, the Minister of Interior, notified Michel Gaudin, Paris Chief of Police, of his decision to dismiss him from his station in the Prefecture.

Since François Hollande’s election to the Presidency of the French Republic, the retention of Michel Gaudin, 63 and close to former President Nicolas Sarkosy, as the head of Paris Police Prefecture (where he just had one year  before retiring on pension) was under question. Despite the dismissals of Frédéric Péchenard, Chief Executive of the National Police, and of Bernard Squarcini, Central Head of the Domestic Intelligence – also close to the former President – having been decided several days prior, Michel Gaudin’s fate still seemed uncertain. A reliable source in the case confided that “In order to not create the image of a witch hunt in the Police, it has been considered that he might stay until retirement. However this solution has not ultimately been chosen.”

On Tuesday evening, François Hollande announced on television that “there will be a reappointment of these civil servants.” Michel Gaudin has been appointed “Senior Executive Prefect” and could join the private sector. Frédéric Péchenard has been appointed Inter-ministerial Delegate for Road Safety.

The former UMP Minister of the Interior, Claude Guéant, as well as Xavier Bertrand, former Minister of Labour, denounced this “witch hunt” at the inauguration of President François Hollande last May. The Minister of the Interior has declined to comment on the issue. Moreover, last February, François Hollande referred to a “UMP state” and to a “real system in place at the Ministry of Interior”,  adding that “none of those who today have responsibilities and who are loyal have to worry, however, those related to [this] system will necessarily give way to others.”

Michel Gaudin was appointed Paris Chief of Police in May 2007 after having served as Chief Executive of the National Police (DGPN). His proximity to the former President of France is compounded with the fact that he was heard by the Justice Department in December 2011 as an assisted witness in an investigation on the General Inspection Service, the Parisian “police of the police”. The GIS were suspected of rigging a procedure to involve three officials deemed close to the left.

Prefect Bernard Boucault, Director of the National School of Administration – ENA – will replace him as head of the service. Born February 17, 1948 at Blois, Bernard Boucault is close to the present Secretary General of the Elysée. Also 63, ENA’s Director has been working for thirty years with many leftist ministries, for instance with Jacques Delors (Finance), Pierre Joxe (Defense) and Daniel Vaillant (Interior). Prefect of Midi-Pyrénées when Lionel Jospin was Prime Minister, then Prefect of Pays de Loire (a role which made him close with PM Jean Marc Ayrault), Bernard Boucault had himself been sidelined after 2007 by Nicolas Sarkosy.

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