Sarkozy loses temper, calls journalists 'paedophiles'

Sarkozy loses temper, calls journalists 'paedophiles'

In a furious off-the-record exchange at the NATO summit in Lisbon last week, the French President targeted a reporter who asked him a specific question about the 'Karachigate' scandal, which threatens to engulf him personally.

Dismissing the allegations as "crazy", Sarkozy angrily told the reporter: "You talk rubbish, you verify nothing."

Microphones at the off-the-record briefing recorded him going on: "You are a paedophile, I'm deeply convinced."

"I've seen the secret services but I won't tell you which ones. I've seen someone but I won't tell you who. But I'm deeply convinced that you're a paedophile!"

His aim was apparently to show how easy it was to make unfounded allegations against public figures, the Daily Mail reported.

The outburst occurred during a briefing, which aides said was not to be reported, before last Friday's NATO summit in Lisbon.

Officials are said to have pressured NATO to wipe an internal recording of the outburst, but it was yesterday leaked by a French magazine.

As Sarkozy left the room, his parting words to the group of reporters were allegedly: "Until tomorrow, my paedophile friends."

The president's bizarre reaction was prompted by accusations that money was siphoned from the 1994 sale of submarines to Pakistan into the election campaign fund of then prime minister Edouard Balladur. Sarkozy was budget minister and Balladur's campaign spokesman at the time.

Sarkozy, who will give evidence to a judge this week in connection with the allegations, denies the allegations.

But, he fears the claims could derail his 2012 re-election campaign. The French President has a history of public outbursts, most famously telling a farmer at an agricultural show in 2008 to "Go away, you bloody idiot" after he refused to shake the president's hand. He had also insulted a Breton fisherman during a demonstration recently.

But each time, his rages have contributed to a drop in opinion polls and outrage at his "unpresidential" demeanour.

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