Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was tipped as France's next president before a U.S. sex assault scandal spelled his downfall, is suing a top French newspaper, several magazines and a government adviser over reports about him.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair, a former TV star and art heiress, said Tuesday they were pursuing the daily Le Figaro, four weekly magazines and Henri Guaino, a senior adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Neither Anne Sinclair nor Dominique Strauss-Kahn wish to limit free expression of ideas and circulation of information but neither do they accept their privacy being exploited and fed off for purely commercial reasons, they said in a statement.

Lawyer Richard Malka told reporters Guaino was being pursued for defamation over remarks he made about Strauss-Kahn on a TV show, while Le Figaro and the magazines L'Express, Le Nouvel Observateur, VSD and Paris Match were being sued for invasion of privacy.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund and onetime French finance minister had been ready to announce that he would run for president for the resurgent centre-left opposition when he was arrested in New York on May 14 and charged with trying to rape a hotel maid.

The charges were later dropped and Strauss-Kahn returned to France, but his left-wing former allies have kept him at arm's length after lewd details of his encounter with the maid, and of his colourful private life, rocked France and the world.

Strauss-Kahn said on French TV that there had been an inappropriate encounter, but denied that force had been used.

U.S. prosecutors dropped the criminal charges citing doubts about the hotel maid's credibility and, separately, prosecutors working on a parallel sex assault case in France decided that complaint had been filed too late to be pursued in the courts.

(Reporting By Brian Love; Editing by Catherine Bremer)