François Fillon, the French conservative presidential candidate, has refused to stand aside despite facing a formal investigation over his wife’s “fake work” scandal.
Many thought that Fillon would pull out of the election race in a press conference on Wednesday, but he vowed to fight on.
Fillon said he has been summoned to appear before judge Serge Tournaire on March 15 over allegations he paid family members for fake parliamentary assistant jobs.
Despite consistently denying wrongdoing, he has previously claimed that such an investigation would trigger his departure from the election race, but this has not proved to be the case.
He denounced the probe as a “political assassination” and said: “I will not give up, I will not surrender, I will not withdraw.”
During the press conference, he asked his supporters to “resist” against the attacks targetting him and to continue backing him despite his “mistakes.”
Fillon had on Wednesday morning, at the last minute, postponed a planned visit to the annual Paris farm fair, a hugely important stop in any candidate’s campaign, which led to speculations he might drop out of the race.
Once the favourite to replace socialist François Hollande at the Elysée, Fillon’s rating in opinion polls has fallen after French authorities launched an inquiry into the fake parliamentary jobs for his family.
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