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Fillon faces formal investigation into 'fake job' case, but will not withdraw from presidential race French centre-right presidential candidate Francois Fillon has confirmed that he is to be placed under formal investigation for allegations that he paid family members for fake parliamentary jobs but will not withdraw from the presidential campaign, going back on his word. Fillon has been under pressure over allegations that he paid family members for fake parliamentary jobs. Fillon, who campaigned initially as a sleaze-free “Mr Clean”, was alleged to have paid his British wife, Penelope, at least €680,000 taxpayers’ money for a suspected fake parliamentary assistant job spanning 15 years. Financial prosecutors later extended their investigation to whether he also gave two of his children highly paid, allegedly fake jobs from state funds when they were still students. The former frontrunner in France's presidential election and his wife have been summoned for questioning on 15 March. In spite of a previous pledge that he would stand down in the event of an official probe being launched, Fillon swore continue in the presidential campaign leading to the 23 April and 7 May elections. "Since my will to serve is greater than the accusations against me, I ask you to resist,” Fillon told journalists on Wednesday. “I do it, my political family does it, in front of all the torments. Yes, I shall be a candidate for the presidency of the Republic, and we shall derive from these trials, with all that they imply of justice, the extra strength we need to restore the country." “Beyond the judicial procedure, I now appeal to the French people alone. Only universal suffrage and not a prosecution can decide who is the next President of the Republic. I will not give in, I will not surrender, I will not withdraw. Beyond my person, it is democracy that is challenged.” Fillon also denounced what he called "political assassination", saying that since the beginning of his case, "the rule of law has been systematically violated." "One can see that I am not treated as a regular litigant from the date they have summoned me on, 15 March, two days before the closure of the sponsorships, fully calculated to prevent me from being a candidate for the presidential election," he said. "It is an assassination, in fact. By this disproportionate outburst, by this choice of this date, it is not me only that is assassinated it is the presidential election.” Fillon has denied wrongdoing, and said his wife was paid hundreds of thousands of euros for genuine work as his parliamentary assistant, though he has acknowledged giving her the work was an error of judgement. The former Prime Minister, who is running for the centre-right Républicains, battled down a rebellion by members of his party last month and insisted his withdrawal from the race would destabilise their campaign. Fillon, who was leading polls until the scandal broke last month, abruptly postponed a high-profile event at the international agricultural salon this morning. Shaking hands, patting cows and tasting sausage at the annual agricultural show is seen as an unmissable event in the political calendar, when candidates set out to show their attachment to rural France. Fillon’s popularity has been hit by the scandal. Opinion polls currently put him lagging in third place for the first round of the French election, behind Front National leader Marine Le Pen and centre-left independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. The two front-runners are just a handful of percentage points apart in polls, with most putting Le Pen narrowly ahead in the first round but predicting a heavy defeat to Macron in the second and decisive vote.