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Fillon Defense Convinces Just a Quarter of French, Poll Shows

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Mr Fillon's lawyer, Antonin Levy, told French radio that the candidate had not had a constituency office while working as an MP and had instead used his home.

The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine had claimed that the British-born Fillon's wife had been paid 600,000 euros (645,600 US dollars) for her job as a parliamentary assistant to her husband and for work at a cultural journal.

It said its reporters had been unable to find anyone who could testify to the work of the mother-of-five, who has always had a low-key role in her husband's career.

Fillon had been favorite to win the presidency for conservative party The Republicans until a week ago, when a newspaper reported that his wife Penelope drew hundreds of thousands of euros in pay from state funds, without doing any work. However, after becoming embroiled in the Penelope-Gate scandal and with authorities today raiding his office, Emmanuel Macron has leapfrogged Fillon and is now the 6/4 favourite for presidency.

Sources close to the investigation said Fillon's staff had voluntarily handed over documents in the raid at parliament on Tuesday.

The Republican candidate said afterwards he and his wife "were able to provide elements useful for establishing the truth".

Fillon, 62, was the long-time frontrunner in the presidential race and had been widely forecast to face far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the runoff in May, but the claims have hit his support.

On Tuesday, Le Canard, which has a history of unearthing scandals in French politics, said Penelope Fillon was paid more for that job than it wrote in its edition last week, reaching a total of 831,440 euros ($897,456) gross.

Both the centre-right candidate and his Welsh-born wife deny any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors are not expected to decide on whether to press ahead with charges for another month.

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