On the 11th of April, the blog lescrutateur.com claimed that François Fillon had been “cleared of all charges” made against him. This theory, shared 25,000 times on Facebook and widely spread on email, is false. The former prime minister of France is still under investigation for allegedly fictitiously employing his wife and children as parliamentary assistants.
The blog draws on legal arguments put forward before Fillon’s indictment on the 14th of March, including an opinion piece written by Jean-Paul Garraud on the 24th of February. Garraud is the “President of the Union of Magistrates”, a former parliamentarian of the right wing party UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), and candidate of the Republican Party for the legislative elections in June. In the piece he reveals that the judicial investigation opened on that same day by the Financial Prosecutor’s Office (Parquet national financier or PNF) is “made out against X“, which means according to him that “there are no elements in the investigation sufficient for the indictment of François Fillon”.
The judicial inquiry against X in no way acquits Fillon but enables judges to extend the charges if other misdemeanors were to be discovered. On the 14th of March, François Fillon was also put under investigation for “misuse of public funds”. Fillon’s wife, Penelope Fillon, and Marc Joulaud were also put under investigation.
The piece in lescrutateur.com also compiles several arguments circulating on the internet that support Fillon. These include that: “the accusation of fictitious jobs was not retained by the Financial Prosecutor’s Office when it was this accusation that was the most damaging in the case against Fillon.” The notion of fictitious employment does not exist in the penal code but the inquiry does aim to determine if the work undertaken by Penelope Fillon as a parliamentary assistant and at monthly literary and cultural affairs magazine “La Revue des deux mondes” was legitimate and real. François Fillon remains under investigation for “the embezzlement of public funds”, “aiding and abetting the embezzlement of public funds” as well as the “aiding and abetting of corporate assets.”