French presidential candidate Fillon on the ropes over wife's payments

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Former French prime minister François Fillon, presidential candidate of the conservative Les Républicains party and widely tipped as the frontrunner in the elections, was this week fighting for his political survival following press revelations that his British-born wife Penelope was paid a total of 500,000 euros out of MPs’ funds to act as his parliamentary assistant, and which cast doubt about whether she actually fulfilled the role. It also emerges that she was paid about 100,000 euros between 2012 and 2013 by a magazine owned by a wealthy Fillon ally. The public prosecutor’s office has now opened an investigation into suspected “misappropriation of public funds” and “misuse of company assets”. Mathilde Mathieu reports on the background to a scandal that not only threatens Fillon’s future, but which could also radically affect the outcome of the presidential elections.  

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Until this week, François Fillon’s image sharply contrasted, in his favour, with that of Nicolas Sarkozy, under whose presidency Fillon served as prime minister from 2007 to 2012.