Sacré bleu! Parking machine labels French mayor ‘thieving bastard'

Zut alors! Rise of the machines? Baguettably non

Police are investigating complaints from a Gallic politician after he was branded a “thieving bastard” on hundreds of parking tickets emanating from a machine in the town where he's mayor.

Jean-François Copé, a former bigwig of the French (conservative) opposition party Les Republicans, stood down last summer following a funding scandal in which it was alleged the party's leader ordered the creation of false invoices to hide the massive costs of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy's failed re-election campaign.

While the town, sadly twinned with both Reading and Basildon in the UK, may be the secret cradle of the rise of the machines, a displeased ex-employee of the town's car park management force is considered the most likely culprit.

Copé still retains some power as mayor of Meaux, a town about 40km east-northeast of Paris, but now even there the town's parking machines are dissenting against his rule.

Tickets issued to drivers bear all of the regular ticketing information but are also adorned with an informative message, exclaiming "Copé bastard mayor, thieving mayor".

The mayor's office told French rag Le Parisien that it had received several calls on the same day from "extremely shocked" (extrêmement choqués) residents regarding the "insulting messages" (messages insultants).

Reports have it that Copé has lodged a legal complaint about the the machine to the local authorities.

Le Parisien's contact considers it was probably an ex-member of staff, as accessing the system requires a log in, username and password.

The garçons en bleu, however, are not ruling out a hacker. ®

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