The battle of the beauty queens here in France is over!
The reigning Miss France, Chloé Mortaud, is being allowed keep her title after a court rejected claims that she had been ineligible for the finals held last December.
They had come from Marine Beaury, the runner-up to Mortaud in the regional contest for Miss Albigeois Midi-Pyrénées in September 2008, a win which had secured the 19-year-old her place in the final.
Beaury maintained that the vote in the regional competition had been rigged and that some members of the jury had close personal ties to Mortaud's parents and that contravened regulations.
But on Friday a court decided otherwise and ruled that there had in fact been insufficient proof to suggest that there had been any influence on the part of Mortaud or her parents on the jury's final decision.
Indeed it went further and ordered Beaury to pay €3,000 towards legal fees, although it stopped short of finding her guilty of "abuse of procedure" as had been counterclaimed by the Miss France organising committee's lawyers.
"The ruling is proof that there's no trickery involved in how the Miss France competition is run," said Geneviève de Fontenay, the president of the committee, who has been organising the contest for 53 years.
"My only regret is that the court didn't split the legal costs equally as this case has cost me a lot even though we won it," added the 76-year-old.
So that would seem to be the end of the matter and the way is now clear for Mortaud - who holds dual French and American citizenship; her mother, Brenda, is an African American who emigrated to France 25 years ago and her father, Jean-Marie, is French - to take part in Miss Europe, World and Universe, the three international beauty pageants later this year.
The whole case might not exactly have done the reputation of the Miss France contest much good, but there again it has been no stranger to controversy in recent years.
Although she kept her crown, the 2008 winner, Valérie Bègue (the former Miss Réunion), was banned from representing France at international level after "suggestive" pre-competition photographs appeared in a monthly glossy magazine.
And the 2004 winner, Lætitia Bléger, was stripped of her title just six months into the job after she posed naked for a well-known monthly magazine.
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