France National Front: Le Pen rejects bid to silence him

image copyrightReuters
image captionMr Le Pen said he had been "disowned" as he left FN headquarters in Nanterre

French ex-National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has left party headquarters, refusing to appear before a disciplinary board deciding his fate.

The FN's honorary president could be ostracised from the party over a series of inflammatory remarks and a feud with his daughter, the current leader.

Marine Le Pen said before the meeting he should "no longer be able to speak in the name of the National Front".

Her father founded the National Front (FN) in 1972 and led it until 2011.

But she has tried to steer it away from its racist and anti-Semitic past.

The party's executive met on Monday in Nanterre near Paris to decide what action to take after Mr Le Pen repeated his assertion that the Nazi gas chambers were a "detail of history".

As well as reviving an old anti-Semitic slur, he told far-right newspaper Rivarol last month that he had never considered France's wartime collaborationist leader Philippe Petain a traitor and labelled Prime Minister Manuel Valls an immigrant.

"I've been disowned," he told reporters as he left the building without appearing before the executive board.

"I've never spoken in the name of the FN. I speak freely and that shocks a certain number of people," he said.

image copyrightEPA
image captionLe Pen took to the stage on 1 May while his daughter was addressing supporters in Paris
image copyrightAFP
image captionMarion Marechal Le Pen, the party founder's granddaughter and an FN MP, attended Monday's executive meeting

It is unclear what penalty the FN's disciplinary board could impose on the 86-year-old former leader, who remains a Euro MP.

Among the options is his total exclusion from the FN, although some French commentators suggested he could be more of a risk outside the party than if he were contained within it.

Mr Le Pen said he had his place and his office. "I'll go there unless they stop me coming," he said.

But his daughter was adamant in a broadcast interview on Sunday that she wanted him out of the political picture.

"What I wish is that the FN will no longer be taken hostage by provocations that are now becoming recurrent on the part of Jean-Marie Le Pen," she said.

image copyrightAFP

Jean-Marie Le Pen: A career in controversy

  • 1987 - First makes his infamous remarks describing the Holocaust as a "detail of history"
  • 1997 - Assaults rival Annette Peulvast-Bergeal during parliamentary election campaign
  • 2006 - One of many convictions for inciting racial hatred over inflammatory remarks about France's Muslim population
  • 2007 - Tells Le Monde newspaper "you can't dispute the inequality of the races"
  • 2015 - Repeats views on the Holocaust, prompting Marine Le Pen to accuse him of trying to "rescue himself from obscurity"

In her interview Ms Le Pen said she had the feeling that her father could not bear the thought of the party continuing to carry on without him as leader.

Although he was sidelined from the party's traditional 1 May march on Friday, he took to the stage in defiance while his daughter was delivering a speech.

Last month, in the face of widespread party opposition, he abandoned a plan to lead a party list in regional elections in southern France.

The FN has made significant political strides since Marine Le Pen took over the leadership from her father, attempting to sweep away its extremist image but maintaining its anti-immigration policies.

She is aiming to make the run-off vote for the French presidency in 2017.

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