Further damaging revelations looked set to pile yet more pressure on embattled French presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Thursday.
It comes as a survey suggests 69 percent of his compatriots want Fillon to give up his bid, amid ‘fake job’ allegations targeting his wife.
What is more, according to a source close to the inquiry, French investigators are widening the probe to include the employment of two of Fillon’s children.
Fillon himself has vowed to ride the storm.
At an emergency meeting on Wednesday, he urged party colleagues to stick by him for another two weeks – the time he believes an official preliminary investigation will take to run its course.
But despite words of support as they left, plunging opinion polls as the clock ticks down to the elections in April and May have led some to call for a different candidate.
MP Georges Fenech from Fillon’s centre-right party, les Républicains, has urged a change in strategy, saying the primaries that picked Fillon are now meaningless as “an unexpected event has occurred”.
In those primaries, Fillon beat fellow former conservative prime minister Alain Juppé. Juppé says he won’t step in as an alternative candidate, despite appeals from some.
At the centre of the row is Fillon’s British-born wife Penelope, who stands accused of receiving huge pay packets for working for her husband over the years, despite no proof she did so.
Penelope Fillon said of her husband in a 2007 interview: "I have never been his assistant" https://t.co/G8EtDW5YuG— Noah Barkin (@noahbarkin) 2 février 2017
The French TV programme ‘Envoyé Spécial’ says that on Thursday night it will broadcast extracts of an interview from 2007 in which Penelope Fillon says she has never worked as her husband’s assistant.