John Galliano 'completely denies' anti-Semitic claims but will stand trial

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Prosecutors in Paris have confirmed that disgraced designer John Galliano will go to trial over allegations of racism and anti-Semitism.

The 50-year-old Briton could face up to six months in prison and €22,500 in fines if convicted during proceedings, which are expected to take place in May.

Gibraltar-born Galliano was detained by police in the French capital last Thursday after Geraldine Bloch and Philippe Virgiti alleged he had hurled racist and anti-Jewish insults at them.

Five days later he was sacked as the creative director for Christian Dior after mobile phone footage emerged of a separate incident, taken in December, in which he was shown stating: "I love Hitler."

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On Wednesday, the 50-year-old couturier broke his silence and released a personal statement about the events leading to his Dior dismissal – the statement appears only to refer to the incident last week.

Explaining that he has not previously commented on the advice of his lawyer, Galliano "completely" denies the claims, adding that he has "fully cooperated" with the police investigation.

"A number of independent witnesses have given evidence...that I was subjected to verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair...For these reasons I have commenced proceedings for defamation and the threats made against me," he said.

"However, I fully accept that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people.

"I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I found myself and for allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light. I only have myself to blame and I know I must face up to my own failures..."

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Adding that he is "seeking help", Galliano closed by stating: "I have fought my entire life against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination having been subjected to it myself... Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologise for my behaviour in causing any offence."

It is though the acclaimed designer has left France and is now in a rehabilitation centre in the US.

Nevertheless, the show goes on for Christian Dior. The luxury label has confirmed its intention to go ahead with their autumn/winter 2011 preview at Paris Fashion Week on Friday. It is not know whether Galliano's own line will also show as scheduled on Sunday.

One of the Parisian fashion house's celebrity ambassadors, Oscar winner Natalie Portman, famously spoke out to condemn Galliano earlier this week – shortly afterwards Dior announced they were terminating his contract, branding his comments "odious".

The Black Swan star – currently the face of the Miss Dior Cherie fragrance - expressed her "disgust" at the four-time British designer of the year, adding: "In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr Galliano in any way."

Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani is one of prominent names in fashion who has come forward in his defence. "He was clearly provoked and filmed while obviously inebriated," she said.

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