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Francois Fillon, member of Les Republicains political party and 2017 presidential candidate of the French centre-right, and his wife Penelope attend a political rally in Paris, France, January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

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PARIS (Reuters) - A lawyer for French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon said on Thursday he had asked the financial prosecutor to drop an inquiry into allegations that Fillon's wife had been paid for work she did not carry out properly.

"The financial prosecutor has no jurisdiction and its inquiry is therefore illegal," the lawyer Antonin Levy told a news conference, adding: "This investigation violates the most basic principles of the French constitution."

The allegations, made by a satirical weekly newspaper on Jan. 25, have seriously damaged Fillon's campaign for the presidency, sending his opinion poll approval ratings plummeting.

Once the frontrunner to win election in May, Fillon now trails third in opinion polls.

(Additional reporting by Michel Rose; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Callus)

Reuters