Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Tycoon told to take Dati child test

Former Justice Minister Rachida Dati gave birth to a daughter nearly four years ago, when she was a member of the French government

A French court has ordered a paternity test for a multi-millionaire who former Justice Minister Rachida Dati claims fathered her three-year-old daughter.

But the mystery of the glamorous politician's love life is likely to continue because the alleged father is legally entitled to refuse.

The birth of the child while Ms Dati was in office from 2007 to 2009 made headlines and set off guessing games about the father's identity, which the minister refused to divulge.

Last month, the 46-year-old named Dominique Desseigne, a 68-year-old widower with two grown children, as the father of her child and took her case to a court in Versailles.

In a closed-door hearing, the court ordered Mr Desseigne - who owns the Champs-Elysees establishment Fouquet's - to submit to a paternity test, said a court official.

Paternity tests are voluntary in France, meaning Mr Desseigne, chief of the Lucien Barriere casino group, can refuse to take the test despite the court order. He has been quoted in the past as saying would do just that.

However legal experts warn that a judge might take such a refusal as an admission of paternity if there is corroborating evidence such as text messages, emails and photographs supporting a relationship.

With her humble origins growing up in a housing project, one of 11 children of Algerian and Moroccan parents, Ms Dati was the government's emblem of diversity, and, with her penchant for designer clothes, jewels and stiletto heels, became the toast of Paris and foreign capitals.

She now serves as a member of the European Parliament in the eastern French city of Strasbourg and keeps a link to the Paris power elite as the mayor of the capital's tiny seventh district.

Were the court to determine that Mr Desseigne is the father, the child would receive rights as an heir and Ms Dati would gain access to child support.

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