France’s Fillon apologises for expenses scandal but refuses to step aside


PARIS: French rightwing presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Monday apologized for hiring his wife as his parliamentary aide, admitting he made an “error” as he sought to draw a line under a damaging scandal. Fillon’s bid has been in turmoil since it emerged that his British-born spouse was paid handsome sums for a suspected fake job as a parliamentary assistant. Late on Monday, the candidate himself corrected a version first leaked in the press, revealing that the after-tax payments to his wife totalled more than 680,000 euros (730,000 dollars) over a total of 15 and a half years starting in 1986. Fillon also used funds available to lawmakers to hire two of his children, paying them 84,000 euros ($91,000) pre-tax between 2005 and 2007. “It was an error, I profoundly regret it and I apologise to the French people,” Fillon told a press conference while insisting he had done nothing illegal and that his wife Penelope’s earnings were justified.



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