’s far-right Front National has suspended a party official for Holocaust denial after he suggested there was no mass killing in the Nazi concentration camps.
Benoît Loeuillet, head of the FN in Nice
, was secretly filmed making the comments, which will be broadcast in a documentary. “I don’t think there were that many deaths ... during the Shoah,” he is heard saying.
Asked by the journalist filming him about Holocaust deniers, Loeuillet, said: “I don’t really know what to think. It’s complicated ... there weren’t 6 million [deaths]. There weren’t mass deaths as we’ve been told.”
The film-makers, from TV Press Productions, had asked to follow the FN in the Alpes-Maritimes region earlier this year to understand why so many young voters support the far-right party led by Marine Le Pen, a frontrunner for the first round of France’s presidential election at the end of April.
When the party failed to respond to their request, the journalists recorded officials in secret for two months.
The FN is now threatening to expel Loeuillet. In a statement on Wednesday it said he had been summoned to a disciplinary hearing that would decide if he was to be thrown out of the FN.
The film, called Le FN à la Conquête des Jeunes (The FN: Winning Over the Young) will be broadcast on Wednesday evening on French TV channel Canal 8, owned by Canal+.
Last week, one of Le Pen’s opponents in the presidential race, François Fillon, the rightwing candidate, promised to discipline party workers who had published a caricature of his centrist opponent, Emmanuel Macron, that was likened to 1930s antisemitic propaganda.
The official Twitter account of Fillon’s party, Les Républicains, published a caricature of Macron depicting him as a hook-nosed banker in a top hat cutting a cigar with the communist symbol of the red sickle.
Earlier this month MEPs removed Le Pen’s parliamentary immunity, allowing French prosecutors to take legal action against her for tweeting gruesome images of killings by Islamic State militants. The FN leader, an MEP since 2004, tweeted three uncensored pictures of Isis killings in December 2015, after a spat with a journalist who had compared the FN to Isis, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh.
“Daesh is THIS!” Le Pen said in angry tweets showing the killings, posts that drew revulsion and criticism from bereaved families and French politicians across the political spectrum.
Under French law, the maximum penalty for distributing violent images is three years in prison and a fine of up to €75,000 (£64,000).