Under-fire French presidential candidate Francois Fillon has refused to give up his bid for election.
It has been a turbulent day in his campaign.
In the morning, Fillon cancelled a high-profile visit to France’s main agricultural show, prompting feverish speculation.
Speaking from his Paris HQ, a defiant Fillon surprised everyone by vowing to continue:
“I will not give up, I will not surrender, I will not withdraw. I will be in this until the bitter end, because it is not just me who is under threat, it is democracy itself. I am asking you to be with me. This is not about me, My rights or my innocence, it is about you.”
Why did Fillon say this?
The 62-year-old is caught up in a scandal over the alleged misuse of public funds.
During the press conference, Fillon said will be questioned on the 15th of March in connection with claims members of his family were given bogus jobs, paid for with taxpayers’ money.
It is alleged his Welsh-born wife, Penelope was paid more than 600 thousand euros over 15 years for working as her husband’s parliamentary assistant when this was not the case.
Francois Fillon has denied any wrongdoing.
What else did Fillon say?
Making a hastily-arranged statement from his party headquarters in Paris at midday, Fillon said:
- That he would not give up his presidential campaign
- That he will be questioned on March 15 in connection with the inquiry
- He denied any wrongdoing
- That only the French people can decide the future of the country, not the media, political or judicial community
- That he believes strongly in his vision for France
Developments on Wednesday
- Fillon cancels visit to high-profile agricultural show
- Meets with senior members of his political party
- Reuters quotes French media reports that Penelope Fillon is being questioned in connection with the inquiry
- Presidential primary rival Alain Juppe widely reported to be with Fillon as he makes a statement at midday. This turned out to be not the case.
Francois Fillon’s campaign team seem to be unaware that his visit to the Agricultural Show in Paris was being rescheduled.
Political figures arrive at Fillon’s campaign headquarters ahead of his midday statement.
French newspaper Le Monde claims sources say Fillon himself is to be questioned in connection with the bogus jobs inquiry.
The room is packed with journalists waiting for Fillon to make his statement.
A wag draws comparisons with Sunday’s Oscars gaffe after reports rival Alain Juppe would accompany Fillon as he made his statement.