9 Oct 2009

Sex controversy minister remains in job

2:03 pm on 9 October 2009

French politician Frederic Mitterrand is refusing to resign over comments that he enjoyed paying for "young boys" in Thailand.

The culture minister denied that passages of his book The Bad Life described sexual encounters with underage boys, the BBC reports.

Interviewed on French TV, the nephew of late President Francois Mitterrand condemned sex tourism and paedophilia, saying he had only paid for sex with men his age.

His book was little-noticed when it was first published in 2005 but returned to the headlines after Mr Mitterrand made an impassioned defence of film director Roman Polanski, recently arrested in Switzerland on child sex charges.

His comments in support of Polanski led the right-wing National Front to lead the criticism of Mr Mitterrand over events in his past.

France's Socialist opposition has also been sharply critical of Mr Mitterrand.

Mr Mitterrand appeared on a French TV news programme on Thursday evening visibly angry and far from apologetic.

He condemned sexual tourism and paedophilia and said he had never in any way participated in either.

He said his actions in Thailand were with people close to his own age and who consented.

Mr Mitterrand said he retained the confidence of President Nicolas Sarkozy and that he had not offered to resign.