Penelope Fillon, the wife of French presidential candidate Francois Fillon, has insisted that she did carry out parliamentary work for her husband, for which she was paid.
Penelope Fillon told French magazine Journal du Dimanche, rejecting allegations she was paid without actually working: “He needed someone that carried out his tasks.”
As calls mount for Francois Fillon to quit, he is due to attend a big rally near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on March 5.
His Republican party has brought forward crisis talks to March 6.
The former prime minister has seen his popularity slip in opinion polls.
Penelope Fillon told the magazine: “If it hadn’t been me, he would have paid someone else to do it, so we decided that it would be me.
“Everything was legal and declared.”
Penelope Fillon said that she has repeatedly told her husband to “go all the way” but said that the final decision would be down to him.
She urged Francois Fillon’s supporters to get behind him in his presidential campaign and not to give up.
Speaking to supporters in Paris on March 4 as he marked his 63rd birthday, Francois Fillon said that those attacking him over his presidential bid were “trying to kill a desire for change”.
The latest opinion polls suggest that he would be eliminated in the first round of presidential election voting on April 23, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen and liberal Emmanuel Macron likely to progress to contest the election run-off on May 7.
A survey published in Journal du Dimanche suggests that 71% of those polled want Francois Fillon to step down.
In another blow to Francois Fillon’s campaign, his spokesman announced on March 3 that he was quitting.
Thierry Solere’s resignation is one of a slew of notable departures, including the campaign treasurer on March 2.
Francois Fillon’s woes have raised speculation that Alain Juppe, also a former prime minister, could return to the race if he were to pull out.
Alain Juppe was overwhelmingly defeated by Francois Fillon in the Republicans’ primary in November, securing only 33% of the vote to Fillon’s 66%.
Sources close to Alain Juppe said he would be prepared to step in, but only with the unanimous support of the party and only if Francois Fillon were to go voluntarily.
Francois Fillon has so far said he has no intention of stepping down despite the continuing hemorrhage of allies.