Emmanuel Macron under pressure to sack aide Alexandre Benalla for attacking protester

The film shot by a student activist on a smartphone shows Alexandre Benalla, in charge of Mr Macron's security during his electoral campaign a year ago and now assistant to the president's chief of staff, in a police helmet and not in uniform joining CRS riot police at a protest on May 1.

The uproar over Benalla's punishment - a two-week suspension and a change in responsibilities - upended regular business in parliament with lawmakers aghast that the security official still has an office in the presidential palace two-and-a-half months after the incident, and that he was not immediately reported to judicial authorities. "This comes as a punishment for unacceptable behavior", he said.

Benalla was a popular and ever-present member of Macron's campaign team, usually found several steps behind the then-candidate, and transferred to the presidential staff in May 2017.

Asked about the video and the investigation during a visit to southwest France on Thursday, Macron refused to comment, saying only: "I'm here with the people".

Benalla, who is not a policeman and previously worked as bodyguard, had been given permission to "observe police operations" during a day-off on the May 1 public holiday, Macron's office said.

Despite this Mr Macron faced allegations he was trying to "hush the affair" from Laurent Wauquiez, who is the head of main conservative party the Republicans. "This man is the eyes and ears of the prince (Macron)".

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Mr Macron, an independent centrist, portrays himself as a relaxed liberal, but is becoming increasingly well known for his reactionary law and order policies.

Labour unions hold demonstrations every year on May 1 in France and clashes with police are not uncommon.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who denounced the "shocking images" in the video, said it was up to courts to decide on the matter.

After the 15-day suspension, Benalla was brought back into the president's immediate entourage.

A source close to the inquiry said that three police officers had also been suspended on suspicion of providing Mr Benalla with surveillance footage of the demonstration in an attempt to prove his innocence, Le Monde reports.

In that role, he was a constant companion to the future president, and archive photographs show the two men together at many high-profile public events.

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