On Wednesday December 7, 2022, the government put an end to the functions of prefect of Indre-et-Loire exercised by Marie Lajus. Since then, the revelations of the Canard Enchaîné on the possible reasons for this decision have generated many reactions.
Was the prefect of Indre-et-Loire, Marie Lajus, sacked for wanting to uphold the law? This is what some fifty civil society actors, civil servants and elected officials from the territories where the prefect has exercised in a forum published on Lemonde.fr.
No new assignment
Back to the case. Wednesday, December 7, 2022, a government decree announces the end of the functions of prefect of Indre-et-Loire, “exercised by Mrs. Marie Lajus, prefect”. No more communication. Ms. Lajus, in office for two and a half years in the department, has also received no new assignment.
A dismissal? This is affirmed a week later by Le Canard Enchaîné, which reveals that the prefect was in conflict with local elected officials because of a real estate project. This aimed to bring together in a business incubator, start-ups working on the technologies of the future, quantum, artificial intelligence and synthetic biology. Code name : “Da Vinci Labs“.
A wooded area close to a historic monument
Problem: its promoter wanted to build this futuristic building of 400 m² in the park of the Château de la Vallière, in Reugny. However, the representative of the State opposed the project, because the planned installation area being wooded and close to a historic monument, it is not buildable, both under the terms of the town planning code and with regard to the principles of the Climate and Resilience Law of 2021.
“Wishing to give priority to economic benefits over environmental protection, some elected officials considered ignoring the law by trying to make the land constructible. The prefect Marie Lajus would thus have advised the elected officials concerned that, if they managed to make this land building, the legality of this decision would be challenged by the State services. The dissatisfaction of elected officials ready to override respect for the law would therefore have led, by means that escape us, to the disembarkation without notice or new assignment of Prefect Marie Lajus”, write its defenders in the tribune of the World. Who therefore believe that she has been “dismissed for enforcing town planning law”. A “profound injustice”they add.
Text messages to Darmanin
The members of the Reugny municipal council, however, deny any involvement in this case. “We affirm that no form of pressure has been exerted by elected municipal officials”do they defend themselves in a communicated published on the municipal website. According to Le Canard Enchaîné, it is in particular with elected officials of the departmental council that the prefect was in conflict, to the point that they would have sent numerous SMS to Gérald Darmanin to demand his departure.
“Live the press, long live the free press”
Asked by several media, the Ministry of the Interior declined to comment. No more than the now ex-prefect of Indre-et-Loire, whose only reaction, during her farewell drink, reflects the unease around this affair. When she received a framed copy of the Canard Enchainé article, she reacted with a short sentence that says a lot: “Long live the press, long live the free press”.
The controversy mounts after the ousting of the prefect of Indre-et-Loire, “dismissed for having enforced the law”