>> This time last week Francois Fillon was the favorite to win France's presidential election. Now as an inquiry over his wife's income gains traction, it looks like he might not even make the second round of this spring's poll. Reuters correspondent Michel Rose in Paris says the scandal has hit at the heart of why Fillon was so popular.
>> It looks like the damage is mostly to his core supporters who thought he would be an honest candidate. He had not been engulfed in scandals in the last 30 years. And many people who had voted in the conservative primaries wanted somebody who's squeaky clean, and not somebody who's been tainted by legal scandals like Nicolas Sarkozy or Alain Juppé.
That was one of his strong points.>> The inquiry's looking into whether Fillon's wife was paid taxpayer's money for fake work. The biggest question for Fillon's party remains, should he step down or sit tight?>> His party are really torn at the moment. A lot of MPs want him to stand firm, but others think the damage done is too great.
And there's a March deadline for applying for candidates in the presidential election. And if they want to find a new candidate, they have to do it quick.>> Fillon maintains that his wife's work was genuine. But even if a court proves him not guilty, some say the damage is already fatal.