NEWS
13/03/2012 08:01 GMT | Updated 13/05/2012 06:12 BST

Sarkozy Denies 'Grotesque' Claims He Received £42m From Gaddafi To Fund 2007 Election Campaign

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has denied "grotesque" claims he received £42m to fund his 2007 election from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Sarkozy was responding to reports published on investigative website Mediapart, which referred to several visits to Libya by Sarkozy's election team.

He told French TV channel TF1: "If he had financed it, I wasn't very grateful. It's grotesque and I am sorry that I am being interrogated about declarations of Gaddafi or his son on an important channel like TF1.

"When one quotes Mr Gaddafi, who is dead, his son, who has blood on his hands, that is a regime of dictators, assassins, whose credibility is zero... frankly, I think we have sunk low enough in the political debate."

The documents published by Mediapart make specific reference to Ziad Takieddine, a middle man in huge arms and petrol contracts between France and various Middle Eastern countries.

It is claimed Takieddine went to Tripoli 11 times to supervise the transaction in 2005, "the year where a payment of €50m (£42m) would have been concluded between the Libyans and Sarkozy camp."

It also claims Brice Hortefeux, Sarkozy's long time friend, advisor, and later interior minister, "intervened personally" in the financial operations. According to Mediapart, Hortefeux has denied any involvement in the events.

Mediapart said the document was "drafted and handed over to investigators by a witness to the dossier, Jean-Charles Brisard, ex member of (former prime minister) Eduard Balladur's campaign team in 1995, now director of a private intelligence company."

Contacted by Mediapart, a spokesmen for Takieddine declined to comment.

Links between the Gaddafi regime and Sarkozy's poll campaign have been alleged for some time, with Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam initially making the claims in an interview on Euronews TV in March last year.

He said: "We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything."

He added: "Sarkozy has to give back the money that he accepted from Libya for funding his electoral campaign. We financed his campaign and we have the proof. We are ready to reveal all".

At the time, a spokesman for the Elysee Palace denied Sarkozy had received any funding from the Libyan regime.

He told Le Monde: "We deny it, quite evidently."

Gaddafi was killed in October last year following the capture of his hometown of Sirte.