Former French PM and his British wife are told they once would have been hanged for embezzlement

A former Prime Minister of France and his British wife accused of stealing from taxpayers were today told that they would once have been hanged if found guilty.

The macabre observation was made in the Paris Correctional Court, where Francois and Penelope Fillon instead risk 10 years in prison.

Both are said to have set up fake jobs for Ms Fillon, a 64-year-old mother of five who was born in Wales, so they could steal up to £1million.

The macabre observation was made in the Paris Correctional Court, where Francois and Penelope Fillon instead risk 10 years in prison

‘Under the Ancient Regime, the offense of of embezzlement of public funds was punished with the death penalty by hanging,’ said prosecutor Aurélien Létocart.

Mr Létocart raised the point to illustrate how serious the alleged offences were, as the Fillons’ own lawyers tried to challenge the legitimacy of the trial.

The Ancient Regime is shorthand for the old monarchical France that existed before the 1790s Revolution.

Today was the first full afternoon of the trial, that opened and was then adjourned on Monday because of a lawyers’ strike.

Both are said to have set up fake jobs for Ms Fillon, a 64-year-old mother of five who was born in Wales, so they could steal up to £1million

Both are said to have set up fake jobs for Ms Fillon, a 64-year-old mother of five who was born in Wales, so they could steal up to £1million

Ms Fillon is accused of stealing cash by pretending to be the parliamentary assistant to her 65-year-old husband, despite never having set foot in the Paris parliament building, which is called the National Assembly.

Ms Fillon also had a fabricated and highly lucrative ‘job’ as ‘literary advisor’ to a magazine ran by a political ally of her husband, it is alleged.

The exposure of such scams led to Mr Fillon, a right-wing conservative who made much of his Catholicism and devotion to family values, losing the 2017 presidential election.

He had been the hot favourite to become head of state, with Mrs Fillon as his First Lady, but both were instead placed under investigation over a suspect fraud worth up to £1million.



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