Police raid Francois Fillon's home as fake jobs scandal deepens

05 March, 2017, 00:34 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • Defiant Fillon faces'fake job charges

Francois Fillon's embattled run to be France's next president plunged further into crisis Friday, with his spokesman now the latest person to ditch the campaign after the candidate's home was searched in a fraudulent-payments probe.

Fillon has issued a half-hearted apology for employing his wife and two of his children as parliamentary assistants over a number of years for which they earned a combined total of nearly one million euros. Prosecutors have said he is under investigation for possible embezzlement of public funds.

A source close to the case told AFP that Penelope, who shuns the limelight, would also be summoned to be charged. But he repeatedly refused to step aside, saying grassroots support was still behind him.

Mr Macron's agenda comes as a poll showed that only one in four French people thought embattled rightwing candidate Fillon, once considered a favourite, should carry on his presidential bid.

However, for now the picture is looking brighter for Macron, the fresh face in French politics.

An apparent threat by far-right leader Marine le Pen to punish state employees who "persecute" political opponents may have eroded her support, according to a poll which found her first-round lead in France's presidential election slipping.

In a campaign rally in Nimes in southern France on Thursday night, Fillon said, "My life has been put to the test in recent weeks" and is being "dissected" because of the jobs allegations.

Fillon's supporters meanwhile plan a rally near the Eiffel Tower on Sunday that they hope will help hold the campaign together.

"I'm among those who use their energy trying to convince Francois Fillon to step down", Morano said.

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'He can fight judges, but he can't fight his own party, ' adviser says. The presidential hopeful, who is leading current polls, has dismissed the vote as "political interference".

Polls now show Fillon finishing in third place in the first round, behind Le Pen and Macron.

In 2015, Le Pen posted pictures on Twitter of IS jihadists beheading USA journalist James Foley after a journalist compared Le Pen's political party, the National Front, to the IS terrorist organization.

Macron said he wanted to smooth out big differences between the pensions of government and private sector employees, while keeping the pension age at 62. "The presumption of innocence has completely and entirely disappeared", he argued.

The French presidential hopeful is the former economy minister of current socialist President Francois Hollande.

UDI leader Jean-Christophe Lagarde said Mr Fillon had become a liability, and that as long as he was a candidate, the centre-right was heading for certain failure.

Fillon is being investigated by French authorities and is expected to be called before judges on March 15, just over a month before the next round of voting on April 30.

When Fillon, a father of five from near Le Mans in northwest France, attended a farm show in the capital after his announcement, he was mobbed by the media amid conflicting shouts of "Fillon, President!" and "Thief!"

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