Galliano blames Paris 'race outbursts' on addictions

Lawyer Aurelien Hamelle says Galliano is "a loving character who loves diversity"

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British fashion designer John Galliano has told a Paris court that his drug and alcohol addictions were to blame for his alleged anti-Semitic outbursts.

Prosecutors say he hurled racial slurs at customers in Paris a cafe.

The designer, who was fired by the Dior fashion house over the allegations, said he had no recollection of the events and denied being racist.

If convicted, he faces a possible six months in jail and a fine of up to 22,500-euro (£20,000).

Prosecutors have asked for a fine of not less than 10,000 euros.

Mr Galliano is charged with "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity". The verdict will be announced on 8 September.

The trial focuses on two alleged incidents in October and February.

Start Quote

I do not have these views and I have never held them”

End Quote John Galliano

Video of a third incident - in which he was shown saying to two women in a cafe, "I love Hitler", and telling them that their parents could have been gassed by the Nazis - was used as evidence in court.

But after watching the footage in court, Mr Galliano denied he was racist or anti-Semitic.

"All my life I have fought against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination, having been subjected to it myself," he said.

"I do not have these views and I have never held them."

'Complete denial'

Mr Galliano told the court he was "a recovering alcoholic, a recovering addict".

He said he began using alcohol and drugs in 2007 following the death of a close friend, and that their use had helped him to cope with the pressures of his job as creative director at Dior.

"After every creative high, I would crash and the alcohol helped me," he said.

He had been in "complete denial" about his addictions when he was arrested, he said which is why he did not tell the police at the time.

Earlier, Mr Galliano's defence lawyer Aurelien Hamelle, said his alcoholic and "pathological state" could be proved by medical testimony.

Aurelien Hamelle said his client wanted to "present his excuses to the people he offended", and to have the chance to "rebuild himself professionally and personally".

The designer has previously repeatedly apologised "unreservedly" for his behaviour and has sought treatment for his addictions.

'Thighs criticised'

Geraldine Bloch, a museum curator, is suing Mr Galliano over what she said was a tirade of anti-Semitic abuse that lasted 45 minutes.

She told the court he had mocked her appearance and clothing during the February incident, and that the word "Jewish" was "one of the most recurrent".

"The tone was not at all funny. I didn't laugh at any time. There was no humour," the AFP news agency quoted her as saying.

Ms Bloch's lawyer, Yves Beddouk, earlier said Mr Galliano had "assaulted her, not only as a woman, by criticising the texture of her hair, by criticising her thighs, and by criticising the way she was dressed".

Ms Bloch "did not even know who John Galliano was at the time of the incident", he said.

Another woman has made similar accusations about an incident in October.

But a British teacher who witnessed the incident involving Ms Bloch told the court she did not hear Mr Galliano say anything racist and that the exchange had been "totally overblown", the Associated Press reports.

Mr Galliano was sacked by Dior after footage of the third incident emerged.

All incidents are alleged to have taken place at La Perle cafe in the Marais district of Paris.

Mr Galliano took over the creative helm of Dior in 1996 and has won British Fashion Designer of the Year on four occasions.

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