French presidential election: Fillon refuses to pull out of race, despite being summoned by a judge

French presidential election: Fillon refuses to pull out of race, despite being summoned by a judge
By Catherine Hardy
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It is proving to be an eventful day for French presidential candidate Francois Fillon.

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It is proving to be an eventful day for French presidential candidate Francois Fillon.

Making a hastily-arranged statement at midday local time, Fillon surprised commentators by firmly reitering his commitment to run for President.

62-year-old Fillon says he will be questioned on the 15th of March in connection with an inquiry into alleged misuse of public funds over claims members of his family were given bogus jobs, paid for with taxpayers’ money.

Fillon has denied any wrongdoing.

He cancelled a high-profile campaign visit to France’s national agricultural show on Wednesday morning, without giving any explanation, leading to feverish speculation.

The Reuters news agency is reporting his wife Penelope is being questioned in connection with the allegations.

A judicial source has reportedly denied the report.

There has been no comment so far from her lawyers.

What 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 or political 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.

In tweets

Confusion totale quand l‘équipe de Fillon découvre en direct le report de sa visite au Salon de l’agriculture https://t.co/PdX3e6HQvLpic.twitter.com/bYdq14i2xO

— franceinfo (@franceinfo) 1 mars 2017

Francois Fillon’s campaign team seem to be unaware that his visit to the Agricultural Show in Paris was being rescheduled.

De nombreux ténors sont actuellement au QG de campagne de François #Fillon à Paris. Notre direct https://t.co/yuzFH3VtBWpic.twitter.com/lGaiiU7qL9

— franceinfo (@franceinfo) 1 mars 2017

Political figures arrive at Fillon’s campaign headquarters ahead of his midday statement.

Selon nos informations, #Fillon est convoqué par les juges d’instruction aux fins de mise en examen le 15 mars https://t.co/chYQh0BXBS

— Le Monde (@lemondefr) 1 mars 2017

French newspaper Le Monde claims sources say Fillon himself is to be questioned in connection with the bogus jobs inquiry.

Un peu de monde pour Fillon… Pas de questions prévues à la fin de la déclaration pic.twitter.com/cDippq4cq8

— Matgoa (@Matgoa) 1 mars 2017

The room is packed with journalists waiting for Fillon to make his statement.

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