- Title: Fillon's lawyer submits documents to prosecutor over wife job controversy
- Date: 26th January 2017
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - NOVEMBER 18, 2016) (REUTERS) THEN PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES CANDIDATE FRANCOIS FILLON SHAKING HANDS OF SUPPORTERS AND APPROACHING PODIUM IN POLITICAL RALLY/LIFTING ARMS
- Embargoed: 9th February 2017 15:04
- Keywords: Francois Fillon Penelope job investigation presidential election lawyer Levy
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice
- Reuters ID: LVA00260PY2X3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A lawyer for Francois Fillon went to the financial prosecutor's office on Thursday (January 26) to defend the French presidential candidate against media allegations that his wife received a salary for a fake job, a charge that could trouble his bid for the Elysee.
With his ratings dropping slightly over the past weeks, the election frontrunner was looking to a big rally in Paris on Sunday to jolt fresh life in his campaign, now hit by the scandal around his wife, Penelope.
Fillon's camp said this would have no effect on his campaign for election in May.
But lawmakers in his The Republicans (LR) party privately said they were worried by the effect of the scandal on the election bid of the 62-year-old former prime minister.
Fillon's lawyer, Antonin Levy, came out of the prosecutor's office, carrying a blue back-pack, and told reporters he was "very confident".
Fillon's camp said he would present prosecutors with evidence to back their stance that Penelope Fillon had indeed carried out the employment for which she was paid.
Le Canard Enchaine reported that Penelope Fillon had been paid some 500,000 euros for many years of employment as a parliamentary assistant to him and later to his replacement as a National Assembly lawmaker, and another 100,000 for work at a cultural journal. It added it could find no trace that she ever did any work.
Fillon, who has pitched himself to voters as an honest and morally irreproachable candidate, has reacted with outrage at the report.
He said in a statement on Wednesday night that he wanted to meet investigators as soon as possible to establish the truth and defend his honour.
Fillon is running for The Republicans in the presidential election on April 23 and May 7. While he faces a strong challenge from far-right party leader Marine Le Pen, second in the polls, and from centrist Emmanuel Macron, he had so far been seen to be on a smooth ride to the Elysee.
The image conveyed by Penelope Fillon's own rare public comments and glossy magazines is of a woman leading a country life and keeping home for her family in their 12th century chateau near Le Mans, west of Paris.
Last October, she told a newspaper, Le Bien public: "Up to now, I have never been involved in the political life of my husband."
Valerie Pecresse, an LR top politician, told RTL radio she was not aware of Penelope Fillon having worked as a parliamentary assistant. Party lawmakers told Reuters the same, on condition of anonymity.
On Wednesday, the party's secretary general Bernard Accoyer had said he'd seen Penelope Fillon work in Paris while a campaign spokeswoman Florence Portelli said she was working for him from his La Sarthe constituency, sowing some further confusion.
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