Francois Fillon will be placed under formal investigation by the French Justice but he will not withdraw from the presidential race. Fillon, who is one of the 4 candidates for the Presidency of France, will be questioned by prosecutors for the famous scandal that involves his wife and children receiving illegal payments for jobs that they didn’t do. Fillon in a message to his followers described the probe as a political assassination.
In a press conference that was held in Paris today, Fillon urged his followers to support him in facing this “institutional coup d’etat” that the Left has organised. He suggested that the charges have political motivation so that his voters would have to turn to the other Presidential candidates leaving the centre-right with only Marine Le Pen as a possible solution. The former French Prime Minister characterised the situation as a scandal against him and his rights as a citizen. Fillon told journalists that he will tell the prosecutors the complete truth but , eventually, French citizens must have the right to decide who is going to lead the country and not the judicial system.
Francois Fillon vowed to stay in the presidential race despite the fact that in January, when the scandal broke out, had said that in case he is summoned by the judges he will withdraw. A research among French voters showed that 75% of them were not convinced with his claims of innocence. The French politician, up to that moment, was a favorite for winning the elections.
The Fillon affair started when the French newspaper “Le Canard Enchaine” published an article in which Fillon’s wife, Penelope, was accused of receiving enormous sums of money for working as his parliamentary assistant in different time periods. In a comic twist of events the newspaper suggested that his Welsh wife didn’t even have a pass to enter the parliament. Penelope Fillon is accused of receiving 800.000 euros for jobs that she didn’t do. But this is not the end for the Fillon family. Their 2 children have been paid in the past for doing legal work despite the fact that they were not qualified lawyers yet.
The Fillon family lawyer speaking in defense of the couple said that it was very normal for Penelope Fillon not to be in the parliament because she had to follow her husband in various missions in France and abroad. Rivals of Francois Fillon say that there was a 2007 video of a Sunday Telegraph interview in which Fillon’s wife was admitting that she had never been his assistant or a public relations manager either. This video has been withdrawn from the internet.
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are the candidates who will benefit more if Fillon’s voters are going to be disappointed in him. It will be interesting to see how much of Fillon’s staff that is leading his campaign will continue to support him in these tough times.