Francois Fillon’s wife reportedly got €45,000 in unemployment benefits

Rival presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron forced to dismiss affair rumours

French  presidential candidate Francois Fillon holds a press conference on the scandals surrounding his campaign. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/EPA

French presidential candidate Francois Fillon holds a press conference on the scandals surrounding his campaign. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/EPA


Penelope Fillon, the Welsh wife of Francois Fillon, the presidential candidate for the conservative party Les Républicains, received €45,000 in unemployment benefits paid by the National Assembly, the investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaîné reports in the edition to go on newstands on Wednesday morning.

Mr Fillon had salvaged his campaign at a press conference on Tuesday, but the new revelation, the third in as many weeks, is another blow.

Ms Fillon, who is suspected of having benefitted from fictitious employment by her husband and his replacement at the National Assembly, received benefits twice after her husband “fired” her, the Canard reports.

In August 2002, Ms Fillon was reportedly paid €16,000 in unemployment benefits, the equivalent of five months’ salary, although she was rehired by Marc Joulaud, who took Mr Fillon’s seat when he became a cabinet minister.

In November 2013, when Mr Fillon ended his wife’s last contract as an assistant at the National Assembly, Ms Fillon received another €29,000, the Canard reports.

Mr Fillon issued a statement denouncing “the lies of the Canard Enchaîné” in which he said the newspaper apparently referred to a payment of €29,565 made to Ms Fillon in August 2007 and not November 2013, ending five years of employment by Marc Joulaud.

A payment of €16,616 was made to Ms Fillon in June (not August) 2002, Mr Fillon said. Both lump sum payments include the current month’s salary, he added.

Affair denial

Emmanuel Macron

In the IFOP rolling poll of voting intentions published on Tuesday, Mr Macron is seen winning the second round of the presidential election, taking 64 per cent of the votes, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen at 36 per cent.

The poll showed Ms Le Pen garnering 26 per cent of the vote in the April 23rd first round, up 0.5 per cent since Monday, while Mr Macron would get 21 per cent, also up 0.5 per cent.

However, Mr Macron was forced on Monday to deny an extramarital affair. The centrist former economy minister and ex-banker sought to kill rumours of a gay relationship outside his marriage to Brigitte Trogneux and push his campaign on.

“If you’re told I lead a double life with Mr Gallet it’s because my hologram has escaped,” Mr Macron told supporters, referring to Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gallet.

A spokeswoman said the comments were “a clear denial of the rumours about his private life”.

It is Mr Fillon’s campaign, though, that is struggling with revelations. In a voter survey published on Tuesday, 65 per cent of respondents polled after he made his comments said they still wanted him replaced as candidate of the centre-right, a figure that will do little to soothe anxieties within his party, The Republicans.

Fillon said on Monday that he was a victim of “media lynching”, but said he will step down if he ends up in court over the allegations against him – now the subject of an official investigation into whether his wife’s work was fictitious or not.

Additional reporting: Reuters