French President Nicolas Sarkozy is suspecting former Justice Minister Rachida Dati of being the mastermind behind the rumours that he and his wife Carla Bruni were having extra-marital affairs, a media report said.
Though a probe is still on to determine the source of the rumours, Sarkozy suspects Dati and he has stripped the 44-year-old of her ministerial perks, including bodyguards and a chauffeur-driven limosine, the Daily Mail reported.
Dati was also kicked out of a five-star hotel in Geneva and downgraded to a cheaper accommodation yesterday during a government visit, on the orders of the 55-year-old French President, the report said.
"Her disloyalty towards Sarkozy after all he has done for her was the reason for this downgrading," an unknown source was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, France's intelligence chief has admitted that President Sarkozy ordered spies to uncover the source of the rumours, despite Bruni publicly denying any probe into the speculation that the couple's marriage was in crisis.
"My department was tasked to determine if the rumours targeting the presidential couple were part of a plot to destabilise them," Bernard Squarcini, the head of the spy agency DCRI -- France's equivalent of Britain's MI5, said.
Last month, the international media was abuzz with reports that Sarkozy was having an affair with French Ecology Minister Chantal Jouanno, while 42-year-old Bruni was involved in a relationship with singer Benjamin Biolay.
Both Sarkozy and Bruni, who got married in February 2008, have dismissed the rumours.