TWENTY short people were apparently ordered to stand behind Nicolas Sarkozy so as to make him look taller while delivering a keynote televised speech, it emerged today. They were brought in after being 'vetted by aides of the French President who made sure none were more than his own height of 5ft 5ins. The extraordinary scenes unfolded at the Faurecia motor technology plant in Caligny, south of Caen , Normandy , last Thursday. Despite Mr Sarkozys lack of inches, he looks far more statuesque than usual as he posed in front of the large group of white-coated technicians on a specially-erected stage. In scenes being broadcast across France today, a woman researcher admits on camera that 'Yes, she had been chosen because of her small size. Asked by TV journalist Jean-Philippe Schaller if it was necessary for her to be no taller than the Presidents 5ft 5ins - a height which rises to around 5ft 7ins thanks to his trademark stacked heels - she clearly replies: 'There you have it. Pictures are then shown of the 20 workers on board a coach which brought them in from other parts of the three square mile Faurecia site. All admitted that they were among the smallest members of the 1400-strong Faurecia workforce, and had been selected to replace the usual workers in the unit where Mr Sarkozy made his speech about the car industry. Mr Sarkozy, who is notoriously sensitive about his height, may not have wanted a repeat of the fiasco in June when he was caught using a footstool when delivering a speech alongside Gordon Brown and Barak Obama on one of Normandys nearby D-Day beaches. Both the 5ft 11ins British Prime Minister and 6ft 2 ins American towered above Mr Sarkozy when they used the same podium, humiliating him in front of a worldwide audience. Daily Mail But while the incident in June was considered funny, this time round Mr Sarkozy was accused of scandalously manipulating his media image for political ends. The scandal intensified today when Le Figaro, a newspaper traditionally seen as one of Mr Sarkozys biggest supporters, described the appearance of the small workers behind the President as a 'casting. It suggested that the Elysee had been 'late in reacting to the fuss caused by the film, and highlighted the governments suspicious record in media manipulation. Party workers are often employed as enthusiastic crowds to clap and cheer Mr Sarkozy. The distinguished political weekly Marianne even referred to the 'Sarko Studio, comparing it to a Hollywood film company desperately trying to boost Mr Sarkozys popularity. Marianne raised the question: 'Have the French people been duped? 'Mr Sarkozy wants to look like a tall, impressive statesman and thinks nothing of altering reality to suit this, said another Faurecia worker. Mr Schaller, France correspondent for Belgiums national broadcaster RTBF, said police had even surrounded the perimeter of the Faurecia site to keep 'undesirables away. He insisted that there was 'no doubt that the French presidents staff had used underhand methods to boost his public image. Carla Bruni, the 54-year-old Presidents third wife, admitted earlier in the summer that she regretted the way people mocked the flat heeled shoes she regularly wears to try and disguise the five-inch height difference between the couple. Miss Bruni, 41 and 5ft 10ins, said: 'I understand that the media prefers to talk about my pumps more than my global foundation or the fight against illiteracy. When the French presidential couple met up with their American counterparts in the French city of Strasbourg earlier this year, Mr Sarkozy was again widely mocked for standing on tiptoes during a photo shoot with the far taller Obamas. With just a few exceptions, French leaders have traditionally been men of stature, and even Napoleon Bonaparte was taller than Mr Sarkozy. Napoleon was often mistakenly put at around 5ft 2ins, instead of his actual height of 5ft 6ins. This was partly because of British propaganda, and because he was frequently painted alongside his giant Imperial guardsmen, who were invariably approaching 6ft tall. 'The Little Corporal - as he was contemptuously dubbed by his enemies - was in fact more than average height for a Frenchman born in 1769. An Elysee Palace spokesman denied the latest accusation about media manipulation of Mr Sarkozys height, saying: 'Its totally absurd and grotesque. A Faurecia spokesman said there would be 'no comment about Mr Sarkozys visit. Daily Mail