Black French singer loses appeal against Marine Le Pen

Black French singer and celebrity Yannick Noah lost his diffamation case against Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National. Noah sued Le Pen because she had called him a “tax fugitive” on television. According to Marine Le Pen, he had “stashed” his money abroad. She made that allegedly defamatory statement on 9 March 2012 during a discussion programme on the pay TV channel Canal+. The talk show was on the contribution made by French immigrants such as Yannick Noah, Zinedine Zidane and Omar Sy.

Yannick Noah during his days as tennis player

Answering the question whether immigration was an opportunity for France, Marine Le Pen responded: “Two tax fugitives out of three, that’s not bad,” before referring specifically to Yannick Noah. “That means, instead of paying his taxes in France, well, this gentleman sees fit to give us moral lessons… giving us lessons on charity and sharing while he shares nothing, his money is stashed abroad and does not benefit the unfortunate French,” she declared. At the time she was a French presidential candidate.

As opposed to the argument advanced by the singer, “the statement does not imply any punishable fiscal fraud committed by him”, according to the judges of the 17th chamber of the correctional tribunal of Paris in their judgement delivered on 25 June 2013. Yannick Noah then appealed against the judgement.

After participating in a political gathering with François Hollande, the current French president, Yannick Noah was criticised by Valérie Rosso-Debord and Pierre Charon of the UMP party, then by Marine Le Pen, for his tax evasion. From 1992 to 1994 he was a Swiss resident and is still involved in litigation with the French authorities in a case pending before the Constitutional Court of France.

The ex-tennis champion has also sued the UMP senator Pierre Charon for defamation for calling him a “tax criminal”. During the first hearing the politician was fined 1 000 euros, but suspended, as well as a symbolic one euro of damages and interest, including judicial publication. The case on appeal will be heard on 16 October.