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France's Fillon and his wife quizzed over work probe

France's Fillon and his wife quizzed over work probeFrench investigators on Monday questioned presidential nominee Francois Fillon and his Welsh-born wife Penelope over allegations that Penelope received 500,000 euros ($535,000) for a fictitious job as a parliamentary aide, AFP reported.

The couple, who are the target of an embezzlement probe, were also questioned over payments Penelope received from a literary review owned by a billionaire friend of her husband.

After the scandal broke Fillon had apparently demanded an early opportunity to put his version of the story to investigators and on Monday he and his wife were questioned separately.

The Canard Enchaine investigative newspaper revealed last week that former prime minister Fillon had paid his wife for years from public money available to him as an MP for parliamentary aides. While employing family members is not illegal, the paper said it could find no proof that she did any work in return for the payments.

Fillon has vehemently denied any wrongdoing by him or his wife, insisting that when he was an MP in Paris his wife did a lot of constituency work.

The scandal has damaged the conservative politician, whom polls had shown leading the race on an image of integrity and promises to slash public spending.

Fillon has claimed he is the victim of a political dirty tricks campaign.

On Sunday Fillon hit back at the allegations telling a packed rally his critics should "leave my wife out" of the election.

"If someone wants to attack me they should attack me straight on, but leave my wife out of this political debate," Fillon told thousands of cheering supporters.
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