France: Conviction of MP for contempt of court did not breach human rights law

A French MP has had his complaint against a conviction for contempt of court rejected by human rights judges.

In its decision today in the case of Meslot v. France (application no. 50538/12) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final.

The complaint was lodged by Damien Meslot, was a Member of Parliament for the Territoire de Belfort département until 2017.

The case concerned the Meslot’s conviction for contempt of court on the grounds of comments which he had made about a judge at a meeting during an election campaign.

Having regard to the nature of the comments made, the Court considered that the applicant’s conviction for contempt of court and the penalty imposed on him had not been disproportionate to the legitimate aims pursued.

Interference with the right to freedom of expression was necessary in a democratic society in order to protect other people’s reputations and to guarantee the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

At a political meeting during the general election campaign the applicant, an MP, had made aggressive comments about the judge who had charged him with electoral fraud some months previously.

The court observed that the comments made by the applicant had been intended to harm the judge personally and had not been objectively necessary in terms of public information.

It held that the imposition of a fine on the applicant had not been excessive, particularly as it had not affected his political career.


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