French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused by a former minister of forcing out the head of France's public radio to help quash rumours that they had an affair.
Rumours of compromising pictures of Macron with Radio France chairman Mathieu Gallet have existed since he started he presidential bid but never been substantiated.
Gallet was fired from his position after a corruption conviction linked to another role. Le Monde reported that it was the first time the country's audiovisual council had used its power to dismiss the head of a public broadcasting arm.
The dismissal was already branded as political after government ministers came out calling for Gallet to go - Gallet's representatives have denounced what they said was the political pressure behind his firing.
Speaking to Europe1, former Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand said that Gallet's dismissal was "political" and that his position had become a "pain for the government".
Gallet had become too important a character, Mitterrand said, adding that the affair rumours had "exasperated" the French president.
Mitterrand said that he thought the rumour was "totally false". Macron has denied that there is any validity to the rumours.
Gallet's representatives suggested that they would appeal the decision and had told French media previously that they were appealing Gallet's initial conviction. Gallet was fined €20,000 (£17,500) and handed a one-year suspended sentence after being convicted of giving a lucrative consultancy contract to a friend's company while head of the National Audiovisual Institute.
Emmanuel Macron blindsided the French political establishment in 2017 when he became the youngest ever president of the republic with a party he had established just a year earlier. Macron has been married to Brigitte Trogneux since 2007, the couple first met when Trogneux was a teacher at Macron's high school.