Wed Mar 1, 2017 07:28PM
Francois Fillon (L), a candidate for the upcoming presidential election in France, visits the International Agricultural Show in Paris, France, March 1, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Francois Fillon (L), a candidate for the upcoming presidential election in France, visits the International Agricultural Show in Paris, France, March 1, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

France's center-right UDI party says it has suspended supporting the campaign of presidential candidate Francois Fillon after he was placed under a formal probe.

The president of the UDI party, which has about 30 lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, made the remarks on Wednesday.

The announcement came hours after Fillon was summoned by judges investigating allegations the conservative politician misused taxpayer-funds and paid his wife for a fake job as a parliamentary assistant. He is due to meet the magistrates on March 15.

The party has been supporting Fillon's campaign since November 2016. The party’s youth wing, however, has been backing his rival, Emmanuel Macron.

Francois Fillon (L), a candidate for the upcoming presidential election in France, visits the International Agricultural Show in Paris, France, March 1, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Fillon, 62, has denied the allegations, describing the investigation against him as "political assassination."

He has also vowed not to withdraw from the presidential race, saying, "I won't give in, I won't surrender, I won't pull out, I'll fight to the end."

Fillon, the candidate for French conservatives in the election due to be held on April 23 and May 7, was dealt a major blow on January 25, when satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine published information revealing that he had paid his wife Penelope 500,000 euros ($540,250) for work for him that she did not appear to have done.

It is legal in France for parliament members to employ family members, but the source behind the revelations insists the job, for which Fillon paid his wife, was fake as there has been no witness to Penelope's work.

On February 2, investigators decided to extend their probe into allegations of illegal payment to family members by Fillon to include two of his children.

Read more