Embattled French candidate Fillon to appear on Sunday evening news

It is alleged that the 62-year-old centre-right candidate gave fake jobs to his Wales-born wife Penelope and his children at taxpayers' expense.

In a defiant speech in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers on Saturday evening, Mr Fillon attacked France's elite for resisting reform.

Promising to put France "back into the lead", Mr Fillon said "our main enemy is ourselves. our harmful tendency to ridicule our own country". He revealed Wednesday he is to meet investigating magistrates to be charged on March 15.

The publication of the interview comes as Fillon is trying to make a last ditch effort to save his campaign, with poll numbers showing he is headed for a near certain first-round defeat to Marine Le Pen of the National Front and the liberal Emmanuel Macron.

Sunday's planned demonstration has anxious some within the party that it will be hijacked by hardline conservative movements and several heavyweight party officials have said they will not attend.

"I said to him that he had to keep going to the end". According to Le Canard Enchaine, Penelope was paid €831,400 (£710,000) to work as her husband's parliamentary assistant despite not having a parliamentary pass.

Mr Fillon will attempt to reignite his campaign with a major rally on Sunday near the Eiffel Tower.

Mr Fillon's woes have raised speculation that Alain Juppe, another former prime minister whom he overwhelmingly defeated in November's Republicans' primary, could return to the race if he were to pull out.

Fillon has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a "political assassination".

"He wants to speak to the French", an official from Fillon's camp told Reuters.

  • Salvatore Jensen