A hearing will be held to determine whether or not Alexandre Maral had the right to organize conference visits without informing his employer. In the meantime, the administrative court of Versailles ruled on Monday: he can resume his duties as curator at the Palace of Versailles. The one who has published many books on the field, expert in royal heritage, had officially been suspended from his post on July 6, 2023, by decision of the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, for a period of two years, including six months suspended.
"The judge of interim relief ruled that in view of the information available to the public institution on the visits it organized and the missions of dissemination of knowledge devolved to the heritage conservators, there was serious doubt about the legality of the sanction as to its proportion in view of the alleged facts," said the administrative court in a statement.
Illegal work or work of the mind?
On the facts, the applicant does not deny having actually organized conferences in the provinces and at the Versailles estate. "But we consider that it was within the legal framework of freedom of expression, justifies his counsel, Me Emmanuel Glaser. Civil servants have the right to organize conferences because it is considered a work of the mind. What can possibly be blamed on him is not having warned the administration. »
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The government also withdrew Alexandre Maral's official accommodation in the castle. Sanction which was also the subject of an appeal before the judge hearing the application for interim measures. The court did not reverse this decision, finding that the "condition of urgency" was not established. The curator cannot, therefore, immediately return to the apartment he occupied free of charge within the castle.
The interim presidency as a protest
Among the arguments put forward to support these two proceedings, the lawyer mentioned the inadmissibility of this sanction since the director of the public institution should normally no longer be in office. "The decision came from an incompetent authority since Catherine Pégard has exceeded for more than two years the end of her third term as president of the Palace of Versailles," explains Emmanuel Glaser.
Indeed, Catherine Pégard has been acting since March 2021, the end date of her last mandate. As the legal age to preside over a public establishment was a maximum of 65, the former journalist, who was then 67, could not be reappointed. But since then, no one has been appointed for his succession.
Alexandre Maral's lawyer had therefore tried to put forward this element to invalidate the sanctions taken against his client. However, the Administrative Court did not rule on this point. Contacted, the Palace of Versailles recalls that Catherine Pégard has in no way been personally prosecuted in this case.
As for Alexandre Maral, he will be the subject of a hearing to answer for his actions. "In general, it takes an average of one year for the file to go to court," says Mr. Glaser. Only then will he know whether or not he will be able to keep his position on an indeterminate basis.