"I don't apologize," said Roland Dumas, the former French foreign minister under the socialist government of Francois Mitterrand who has come under attack after claiming that Prime Minister Manuel Valls was under "Jewish influence".

Dumas, who French Jewish leaders linked to controversial right-wing figures after his statement, told France 24 he was not sorry for the comments he made on BFMTV and RMC on 17 February.

"I think we [live] under a system of freedom, and many people have been mobilised over the past few days to claim their rights to do what they want," he said, "So when I want to say something, I'll say it," he said.

When he was asked to explain his accusations that Valls had "personal alliances", and was under Jewish "influence" of his wife Anne Gravoin, a celebrated violinist of Jewish origin, Dumas said: "You see anti-Semitism everywhere. Do you think I am the only one to believe and say what I say?". "I don't apologize," he added.

Right-wing relationships

During the interview with France 24's Sylvain Attal, the 92-year-old, who served as president of the Constitutional Court, was also asked about his relationships with controversial figures in France. This comes after the Crif, the French Jewry's political umbrella organisation, tweeted a picture of Roland Dumas surrounded by alleged anti-Semite Alain Soral, Dieudonné and Bruno Gollnisch, following his comments on Valls.

Soral is the author of several right-wing, polemical essays and Gollnisch is the Front National's former deputy leader. Dieudonné, a controversial French comic, is often accused of anti-Semitic Jew-baiting.