Francois Fillon has slapped down rumours of his resignation and declared he will stay in the race
Francois Fillon, 62, who has faced calls from members of his own party to drop out of the campaign race, went against his previous claims that he would resign if he were put under formal investigation for allegedly paying his wife Penelope for a "fake job”.
On Thursday, France's financial prosecutor decided to keep open an investigation to assess whether Penelope conducted real work in exchange for receiving hundreds of thousands of euros in taxpayers' money as his parliamentary assistant.
In an interview with French newspaper, Le Figaro, Fillon said it would be scandalous to deprive the right of a candidate to campaign, although the court is continuing the investigation, according to the Telegraph.
Candidates for the 2017 French Presidential Election Mon, January 30, 2017
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Fillon added: “My decision is clear: I am a candidate and I will continue until victory.”
Originally the favourite to win the election, Fillon has seen his status overturn in weeks after French newspaper Le Canard Enchaine accused him of paying his wife £708,000 during the 15 years she “worked” for him as an aide.
However during interviews with French media last year and in 2008, Penelope Fillon insisted she did not "have a role" in her husband's office.
On Wednesday, the 40 members of his own Les Républicains centre-right party told him to find a “political solution” to his ongoing problems which has seen the former frontrunner lose his popularity.
Previously protesting his innocence, Fillon apologised for the “error” in judgement he made in hiring his family members.
Penlope Fillon's children were dragged into the scandal last week as they were also questioned over
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He added: “I have been attacked in the most unbelievable way. All the facts are transparent and legal, we told the police everything, we answered every single question.”
According to the most recent polls, Marine Le Pen has dramatically slashed the gap to her rivals as a survey carried out for Opinion Way showed that in the space of just 10 days Ms Le Pen has reduced the polling gap to Mr Fillon, who has been hit by a series of scandals, from a massive 21 points to just 14.
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