Around 50 soldiers and a helicopter were sent out to search for a far-right National Front candidate who had faked her own kidnapping on 22 July, a Correctional Court in France has heard.

The 25-year-old activist Sandy Gaillard has now been given a six-month suspended jail sentence, for cooking up her own kidnapping story.

The court also ordered the former FN candidate to pay a fine of €5,000 (£4,400) and seek psychological help.

Gaillard's kidnapping had sparked a massive search operation, which went on for 24 hours, the court heard.

According to court documents, the activist was separated from her husband and was seeing two men when she concocted the story.

Gaillard had sent a text message to one lover saying that she had been kidnapped and tied up in the boot of a black BMW, according to the prosecution. After receiving the message, her boyfriend alerted the police and a search was started to find Gaillard.

Investigators started their probe with her ex-husband. The man who is already booked for domestic violence against Gaillard greeted the gendarmes by throwing one of his pigs at them. A soldier was even bitten on the leg.

Following a 24-hour search operation, Gaillard turned up showing no signs of any trauma and remained calm. She claimed that her abductors had simply decided to set her free and that she returned home to her live-in lover the next day.

During police questioning, she admitted she had made the story up in order to spend a romantic break with her lover in Le Puy-en-Velay. She said that her new lover was not involved in the ruse.

"I'm completely overwhelmed by these events, I'm sorry I lied," Gaillard told the court, after admitting she had been in bed with her second lover all along.

"The only thing I can tell you is that people are all against me, they have not tried to understand the circumstances of this. I regret to have lied to everyone, to have done that the police deploy great means for not much," Gaillard said, according to France's regional daily South West.

Gaillard had stood for the local elections for Marine Le Pen's National Front in the Lozere department in 2015.