Even when represented by one of the most prestigious tenors of the Paris Bar, Maître Olivier PARDO, the self-proclaimed spiritual guide has a poor track record in court. On November 18th, 2011 the Paris court specialised in matters concerning the press threw out François Stifani’s case against “L’Express” journalist, François KOCH. link
Ephesse and one of his closest GLNF allies, Maître Nicolas BODSON (lawyer by profession, he is member of the GLNF Pardon Commission and a board member of the GLNF Foundation) were suing François Koch for “violation of the secret of correspondence” for having revealed an exchange of e-mails dating from April 9th to 15th, 2010. The e-mails concerned advice to Stifani on how to guarantee a positive result at the multi-location AGM of October16th (since declared illegal and subject of an ongoing appeal).
Initially the GLNF was also party to the case but Maître Legrand’s lawyer withdrew, leaving just Stifani and Bodson, claiming 155000 € in damages.
In its ruling the court decreed that there had been violation of the secret of correspondence but that the confidentiality was no longer current since François Stifani himself had already sent copies of the e-mails to at least 15 Brethren. The judgement also ruled that publication of the article actually made a contribution to a conflict that was already in the public place.
The decision is not necessarily definitive as Stifani and Bodson may decide to appeal. One thing for sure, with his penchant for litigation François Stifani ensures a good living for his professional colleagues.
This case recalls a previous conflict between Ephesse and François KOCH, the celebrated “forged” letter to French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. Written on official GLNF letterhead the letter with François Stifani’s signature pledged allegiance of the the Obedience’s 43000 members to Sarkozy’s political programme, a direct violation of the Landmarks and the Rule in 12 Points. Stifani claimed the letter to be a forgery and denied having received the President’s reply (the Elysée Palace confirmed its existence).
As soon as the existence of these letters became public François Stifani claimed he had lodged a complaint against KOCH for the publication of false information and that the matter was in the hands of the courts. Neither KOCH nor his employer have ever received an official notification or writ concerning the case. In his first letter of December 9th, 2010 the Grand Chancellor of the UGLE requested clarification on this matter since correspondence of such a nature with a political figure clearly contravenes the Principles of Recognition between international Grand Lodges. François Stifani merely replied that he had done what was necessary and, at the time, the UGLE was not about to question the word of a Grand Master. Since then, from a public letter from Alain Juillet to François Stifani we have learned that he (Stifani) has written to Nicolas Sarkozy using GLNF letterhead on no fewer than 13 occasions. It would be interesting to see how Ephesse would reply today to a UGLE request for information on the 13 letters.