Sunday

2nd Oct 2022

Fillon to be charged, will not withdraw from election

  • Francois Fillon with his wife Penelope: "I did not misappropriate public money, it's a political assassination". (Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)

Francois Fillon, the centre-right candidate in the French presidential election, will continue to run despite being soon charged in an embezzlement case.



"I won't give up. I won't surrender. I won't withdraw," he said on Wednesday (1 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In a press point without questions announced just hours before it took place, Fillon said he had been summoned by judges to appear on 15 March to be charged in a case of alleged fake jobs for family members.


He is suspected of having paid his wife €680,380 as a parliamentary assistant at different times between 1986 and 2013, even though she appears not to have worked in the National Assembly.

He is also suspected of having paid two of his children as parliamentary assistant in the Senate a cost of €84,000. 



A preliminary investigation was opened in late January after revelations in the press and a formal case was opened last week.

Fillon said January "the only thing that would prevent me from being a candidate would be if my honour was hit, if I was charged".

He said on Wednesday that the whole affair was a "political assassination", however.

"I was not treated as other people answerable to the law," he said.

"The preliminary investigation was opened in a few hours, the minutes were leaked to the press within a few hours without the justice minister being disturbed," he said.

He said that "the rule of law was systematically violated".

He noted that he would be charged just before the official deadline to file a presidential candidacy.

He said that the investigation against him was "an assassination of the presidential election" and of the freedom to vote.



"I appeal to the French people and to itself alone," he said. "Only universal suffrage, not an accusatory procedure, can decide who is the next president of the republic."

Fillon said he would go to the judges because he was "respectful of the institutions".

This stands in contrast to far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who refused a judge's summons in a case of suspected fake jobs in the European Parliament.

Fillon said he would tell judges "the truth".

"I don't admit [accusations]. I did not misappropriate public money … My family actually assisted me and I will demonstrate it," he said.

Fillon's statement cut short rumours of withdrawal that ran across Paris after he did not show up at a planned visit to the city's agriculture fair.

Going to the fair is a must-do for politicians, especially ahead of a presidential vote.

The centre-right candidate, who was chosen in a primary election in which more than 4 million people voted, was considered as a favourite to win the presidential election. 



But the accusations against his wife and children have hurt his campaign, which he had run on a theme of truth and honesty.



Call to 'resist'

In the most recent poll, Fillon (20%) was third in voting intentions, far behind far-right leader Marine Le Pen (27%) and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron (25%).

But Fillon's Republicans party does not appear to be in a position to replace its candidate.

Alain Juppe, who lost to Fillon in the primary, has said that he would not be an alternative candidate.

Other, younger potential candidates do not have enough support within the party to be considered as credible replacements.

Fillon called on his supporters to "resist".

"Don't be mistaken. Don't let anyone deprive you of your choice," he told them. "My determination is bigger than accusations against me."

The first round of the election is on 23 April, with a run-off on 7 May.

Le Pen wants to 'do away' with EU

The far-right presidential candidate said that she would create a "Europe of free nations", while taking France out of Nato command and "tie up" Russia to Europe.

France's Macron issues Brexit warning

The centrist presidential candidate tells talented Britons to come to France and warns against giving the UK "undue advantages" after Brexit, in a speech in London.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

European right hopes Macron will save France

With Fillion all-but out of the election, a senior European politician said "committees" are working on what to do if Le Pen wins and takes France out of the EU.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us