PARIS - The woman who started France’s campaign to encourage women to expose their sexual harassers has appeared in court over allegations of defamation.

Sandra Muller is being sued by Eric Brion, who she named when she created the “#balancetonporc” hashtag.

The TV executive says he flirted with Ms Muller inappropriately on a single occasion, but his portrayal as a predator has ruined his career. He is seeking €50,000 ($55,000, £44,000) in damages. Mr Brion is also looking for another €15,000 in legal fees and the deletion of the tweet which named him. The hearing on Wednesday attracted widespread attention in France, where sexual harassment is believed to be commonplace - but which has also seen a backlash to the #balancetonporc” (“rat on your pig”) movement. At the hearing, Mr Brion’s legal team said that while he had apologised for his clumsy or inappropriate flirtation, he had “never admitted to harassing anyone”. “He said that one evening he tried to flirt with Sandra Muller as he liked her,” his lawyer Marie Burguburu told the court. “This is his right to flirt,” she added.Ms Muller, who had travelled from the United States, where she is based, to attend the session, said she had “started a movement that spread through all levels of society”. The journalist said she wanted to see that “sexist insults, whatever they are, are finally taken seriously”. When she received the court summons in January, she expressed surprise that despite his apology, Mr Brion “changed his strategy and decided, against all decency, to take me to court”.