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France - Politics

Fillon will pull out of race if charged over wife's 'fake job’

François Fillon is seen prior to a prime-time news broadcast in the studios of TF1 in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris.
François Fillon is seen prior to a prime-time news broadcast in the studios of TF1 in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris. Reuters/Pierre Constant/Pool

France’s conservative candidate for the presidency, François Fillon, said Thursday he would step out of the race if prosecutors decide to file preliminary charges over an allegedly fake job held by his wife.

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Fillon told French channel TF1 there was nothing improper or illegal about his employing his Welsh-born wife, Penelope, as his parliamentary aide for years.

He said "her work was real" and that he would provide investigators with "all necessary proof". But he said he wouldn't submit to being tried in the media.

"Only one thing would prevent me from being a candidate: it's if my honour was harmed, if I were given preliminary charges," Fillon said.
"I have always said that I wouldn't be able to be a candidate for the presidential election if there was evidence that I had broken the law. This is not the case," he said.

Fillon also revealed that he had employed two of his children, who were lawyers, from public funds while he was a senator.
It's not illegal for French legislators to hire their relatives as long as they are genuinely employed.

Fillon vowed Thursday to produce evidence to counter explosive allegations that his wife received half a million euros for "fake jobs".

Fillon's campaign manager, senator Bruno Retailleau, said the candidate's lawyer would contact the national financial prosecutor's office and "take them a certain number of documents".
 

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