Wife of Francois Fillon under formal investigation over 'fake jobs' scandal

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
'They are trying to take me down, through Penelope,' Mr Fillon claimed: Getty Images

The wife of Francois Fillon has been placed under formal investigation by magistrates for her involvement in the "fake jobs" scandal engulfing the French presidential candidate.

Penelope Fillon's husband was handed preliminary charges earlier in the month over allegations he paid hundreds of thousands of euros to his wife and children for work they did not do.

Both Mr Fillon and his Welsh-born wife have denied any wrongdoing, and the Les Républicains' politician has insisted his wife was legitimately employed as his parliamentary assistant.

The scandal also extends to his children, Marie and Charles, who allegedly received payments for work they did not do. Mr Fillon has claimed they were paid as lawyers, however neither was qualified at the time.

Mr Fillon had been considered the favourite to win the two-round presidential election, taking place between 23 April and 7 May.

However he has now slipped to third place behind independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and the National Front's Marine Le Pen.

Mr Fillon originally said he would withdraw from the presidential race if formal charges were brought against him but has since gone back on his promise, refusing to step down while claiming the charges are politically motivated.

The 63-year-old decried a “political assassination” in a press conference last month, adding: “I will continue to the end because it is democracy that is under attack.”

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