French presidential candidate's children dragged into damaging corruption probe
Pressure on French presidential candidate Francois Fillon to quit the race is mounting from some politicians in his own camp, as investigators widen their probe into his finances.Pressure is mounting on Francois Fillon to quit the French presidential race as some politicians in his own camp urge him to drop his scandal-tainted bid in order to save the conservatives from defeat.
With opinion polls showing the conservatives their candidate may be fatally damaged, some senior members of the Republicans urged him to pull out now to give the party time to find a good replacement.
Mr Fillon denied wrongdoing after Le Canard Enchaine newspaper reported the former prime minister had paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for work she may not have done.
Falling poll ratings since then will benefit far right leader Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker running as an independent.
A poll of voting intentions showed the Socialist candidate, Benoit Hamon, also increased his share.
France 2 television said it would broadcast extracts of a 2007 interview of Francois Fillon's Welsh-born wife, Penelope, telling British media she had never worked as his assistant.
'Stick by me', Fillon asks colleagues
French financial investigators are also reportedly widening their probe to include two of the Fillon children.
French lawmakers are allowed to employ family members, but the suggestion Penelope Fillon did no real work has damaged her husband's image, and could yet put him in court.
Mr Fillon said the work was genuine and he would not stand down unless put under formal investigation.
He held an emergency meeting with party grandees on Wednesday in which he urged them to stick by him for another two weeks — the time he estimated a preliminary investigation would take to run its course.
But some appeared unwilling to give him that much time after one poll showed the hitherto favourite would be eliminated in the first round of the election on April 23.
Another survey showed 69 per cent of people wanted Fillon to drop his bid.
The scandal has heightened investor concerns National Front leader Ms Le Pen could win and take France out of the euro and the European Union.
Opinion polls routinely show Ms Le Pen making it through to a second round, but being soundly defeated in the runoff vote by any candidate — be it Francois Fillon or the centrist Emmanuel Macron.
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