French parfumier Jean-Paul Guerlain has been found guilty of racial slander for his comments about "negroes" during a 2010 television interview.
A court in Paris ordered him to pay €6,000 ($8,000) for the offense, as well as court costs and damages for each of the three anti-racism groups that brought the suit against him, local newspaper Le Parisien reported.
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They sued Guerlain, 75, after he told France 2 television that he had worked "like a negro" on his company's famous Samsura scent.
"I don't know if negroes have always worked so hard, but anyway," he continued, to embarrassed silence from his interviewer.
The court found him guilty of racism for the second remark, but not the first, according to the Parisien.
Guerlain said his comments were "idiotic," but denied any racist intent. "I'm from another generation," he told a court hearing last month, of a time when the expression "to work like a negro" was in common usage. As for his other remarks, "I just wanted to make the journalist laugh," he said. "I regret it."
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He apologized soon after making the remarks in October 2010, but it wasn't enough to stop the legal complaints. Protests outside the Guerlain company's flagship Paris store and boycotts of its products followed, according to 20 Minutes.
The company sought to distance itself from Guerlain, a descendant of the perfume house's founder, by pointing out that he was no longer a shareholder or member of staff; however, according to Radio France International, he continues to act as a consultant to the perfumier's chief "nose."
Guerlain is currently embroiled in another complaint of alleged racism, RFI reported, after three Eurostar employees accused him of abusing them as he attempted to board a train in Paris last month.
"France is a shit country, this is a shit company and what's more all the staff are immigrants," the plaintiffs – two of them black, one of Asian origin – claim he said when he was late for his departure.
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