Steven Robinson, a close friend of the British fashion designer John Galliano, was killed by a massive cocaine overdose supplied by a “celebrity” Paris drugs dealer, it has been claimed.
Mr Robinson, a 38-year-old from Norfolk who was a rising star of haute couture, had up to 7gms of the drug in his system when he was found dead at his flat in the French capital in 2007.
While it has been maintained for the past four years that Mr Robinson died of a heart attack with nobody else involved in his death, he had in fact been sold the cocaine for around £450.
It was supplied by Alassane Seck, a 40-year-old illegal immigrant from Senegal who was later convicted of Mr Robinson’s manslaughter. He had denied supplying the drugs that killed Robinson.
In a further twist, lawyers revealed that Seck supplied cocaine to numerous fashion stars and leading French politicians, including a close personal friend of the First Lady, Carla Bruni.
The revelations have provoked accusations of a cover-up aimed at protecting the reputation of the House of Dior, where both Galliano and Robinson worked, as well as senior figures in the French establishment.
“There is a great deal to this entire case which has never been discussed publicly,” said Seck’s French barrister, François-Henri Blistene.
“My client was supplying cocaine to some of the biggest names in Paris, including Mr Robinson. Many other public figures were also using his services.”
The flat where Mr Robinson’s body was found in 2007 was in the same district of Paris as La Perle, the bar where Galliano was arrested earlier this year for launching an anti-Semitic attack on fellow drinkers.
During his trial for anti-Semitism, Galliano said the shock of losing Mr Robinson had increased his reliance on alcohol and anti-depressants – which in turn allegedly caused his anti-social behaviour.
Galliano is expecting a verdict in September, and faces a prison sentence if found guilty.
Galliano gave evidence at Seck’s murder trial in 2008, but those involved apparently used France’s notoriously strict privacy laws to make sure it was never publicised.
No journalists attended proceedings, and no official documents containing Mr Robinson’s cause of death were ever released.
“It smacks of a major cover-up,” another Paris legal source involved in the case said. ‘In countries like Britain it would be impossible for someone to be killed by a cocaine dealer without anybody knowing about it – but that’s what happened in this case.”
“The reputation of both Galliano and Dior would have been sullied if this had been made public, as would the names of numerous important public figures who bought drugs from Seck.”
During Seck’s ‘secret’ trial it emerged that dozens of ‘big names in the fashion world’ used his services, said Mr Blistene.
The only client whose name the barrister would reveal was that of François Baudot, a cultural adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Baudot was also the godfather to Carla Bruni’s son, Aurélien. Baudot, who had been recommended to Sarkozy by Bruni because they were firm friends, committed suicide last year, aged 60.
Galliano and Robinson started working together in the late 1980s, and became central to Galliano’s success at the House of Dior. By the time of Robinson’s death they had been working there for 11 years.
“He protected me from everything, so I could just concentrate on being creative,” Galliano said during his own Paris trial in June.
Dior is owned by LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), the world’s largest luxury products conglomerate, whose turnover last year was almost 20 billion pounds.
Seck was sent to prison for seven years in 2008. He appealed in April 2010 when the conviction was upheld, but his prison term was reduced to six years. He has since been released, having served half his sentence.