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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 13:56 GMT
Chirac cleared over food expenses
Jacques and Bernadette Chirac
The Chiracs' lavish lifestyle has been under scrutiny
A French court has dismissed legal action against President Jacques Chirac over the food bills he ran up as mayor of Paris in the 1980s and 1990s.

The current mayor filed a complaint last year, after an audit revealed that Mr Chirac and his wife had claimed high expenses for private entertaining.

They amounted to 600 euros (420) a day on average between 1988 and 1995.

But a Paris appeals court on Wednesday ruled there was no case to answer, as the statute of limitations had lapsed.

Mr Chirac, who stood down as Paris mayor when he was elected president in 1995, has declined to comment on the allegations.

He remains immune from possible prosecution as long as he is head of state - although his wife enjoys no such immunity.

The incumbent mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, filed the civil complaint after auditors he ordered found huge claims for private receptions.

The audit revealed - among other things - that cash payments to the mayor's cooks amounted to 1.4 million euros (1m).

The report said some bills appeared to have been paid several times, and others seemed to be for fictitious items.

French magistrates have also investigated large cash payments Mr Chirac made for private trips abroad in the 1990s.

He has denied any impropriety.


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