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The Fillon Fight: A timeline of the extraordinary fake jobs scandal

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The Fillon Fight: A timeline of the extraordinary fake jobs scandal
Photo: AFP
14:16 CET+01:00
François Fillon has vowed once again to battle on in his bid to become French president. This timeline is testament to both Fillon's determination and front and also the risks he is facing.
It all began on....
 
January 25th
 
Satirical newspaper Canard Enchainé reveals that François Fillon's wife Penelope earned €500,000 as a parliamentary assistant over a number of years working for both her husband and another MP Marc Jouland.
 
The paper could not find anyone who could vouch for Penelope Fillon actually having done any work to justify the salary therefor suggesting the job was "fictif", made up or fake, in English.
 
Later that day the the public financial prosecutiors opens a preliminary inquiry into "misuse of public funds and abuse of social benefits and concealing these offenses".
 
 
January 26th
 
The next day, Fillon's team begin the counter-offensive and the candidate appears on French TV channel TF1 condemning the allegations as "slander" aimed at "attacking his wife".
 
But he also reveals that he employed his two children to work for him during his time as a senator, but insists it was only for "specific tasks" and that they were hired for their skills as lawyers. 
 
Fillon also announces that he will "sue the newspapers that said his wife had a fake job".
 
Crucially though he promises to step down if he is placed under formal investigation, in other words if he is charged with an offense.
 
January 28th
 
It is revealed that, contrary to his statement on TF1, Francois Fillon's two children were not officially lawyers at the time when he employed them, something which his team dismissed as an "imprecision of language".
 
 
January 30th
 
Francois Fillon and his wife are called in to give their statements at the central anti-corruption and fiscal fraud office as part of the preliminary investigation.
 
January 31st
 
Police search Fillon's office at the National Assembly, looking for proof of tasks completed by Penelope Fillon. It emerges she had no security pass or email address.
 
 
 
February 1st
 
In the new edition of Canard Enchainé, the newspaper changes its original figure of €500,000, now saying Penelope Fillon received a gross sum of €831,440 for her "work" for her husband and his former deputy Marc Jouland as well as for a literary review.
 
Francois Fillon continues to deny any wrongdoing, dismissing the whole affair as simply "very professional slander".
 
MPs in Fillon's Republicans party are starting to get twitchy and there is open talk of a "plan B". But no one wants to step forward as an alternative to Fillon out of fear of being seen to stab him in the back.
 
Alain Juppé who lost out to Fillon in the second round of the primary election rules himself out of being a replacement for Fillon, should the candidate decide to quit.
 
February 2nd 
 
A video in which Francois Fillon's wife, Penelope, told a British journalist she has "never been the assistant" of her husband was aired on French TV.
 
Envoyé spécial, a French investigative TV programme, showed the ten-year-old footage of Penelope in which she told the Sunday Telegraph she had not worked for her husband.
 
"I've never been his assistant," she reportedly said giving more ammunition to those who believe Fillon has a case to answer.  
 
 
February 3rd
 
Fillon's ratings continue to fall, an Oxoda study for FranceInfo reveals that six out of 10 French people think that he should resign from his presidential bid.
 
Fillon releases a video on Facebook, speaking to camera he saying he "understands" the "trouble" surrounding the affair but "will stand firm".
 
February 6th 
 
Just when it looks like Fillon will announce he is stepping aside, he uses a hastily organised press conference at his campaign HQ to insist he did nothing wrong and claim his wife's salary was entirely justified.
 
He did however apologize to the French people, admitting that employing his wife and children was "a mistake".
 
"I apologise to the French people," he said, admitting it was an "error" that he regretted "deeply". But he steadfastly refused to stand aside.
 
February 13th
 
On the eve of Valentine's Day there was more bad news for Fillon as rebel Republican MPs held a meeting to demand a solution to the crisis and the latest polls show his popularity continuing to fall.
 
As he struggles to relaunch his campaign surveys suggest Fillon will no longer make the second round of the election, but will be beaten by both Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron.
 
 
February 16th
 
Much to Fillon's anger the financial prosecutor sends out a statement insisting the probe won't be dropped.
 
February 18th 
 
Fillon goes back on his pledge of January 26th and now says even if he is charged he will continue his campaign.
 
February 24th
 
An official judicial probe is launched against François Fillon and Penelope and magistrates are put in charge of an investigation into various alleged offences including misuse of public money.
 
 
March 1st
 
Fillon cancels a visit to the international farm show in Paris prompting speculation he is about quit. But once again he surprises everyone and instead comes out fighting.
 
He does though confirm he will be charged or placed under formal investigation by the magistrates, but the blasts the conspiracy against him.

“The rule of law has been systematically violated," he said adding “The presumption of innocence has been entirely eliminated.”

“It is indeed a political assassination. But it's not just me they are killing, it is also the presidential election itself."

"It is the freedom of the vote and democracy that is being violently attacked," he added.

So what's next...

He is set to meet with magistrates on March 15th where he will be formally placed under official investigation. Fillon is likely to remain under formal investigation until the election, the first round of which is on April 23rd.

His refusal to step aside means he will now have to campaign with a cloud over his head, but he says only the French public can judge him.

We will soon find out what they think.

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