Supporters of embattled conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon called on French prosecutors Monday to investigate claims in a recently published book that police and judicial proceedings might have been used to target rivals of socialist President Francois Hollande.
Fillon's campaign coordinator Bruno Retailleau and four other lawmakers wrote to prosecutors asking them to "follow up as you see fit" on the allegations in the book "Bienvenue Place Beauvau," authored by three journalists.
Retailleau told broadcaster BFMTV that lawyers engaged by the deputies to study the journalists' claims had identified twelve potential violations of the law and it was necessary to establish whether they were "based on reality or based on a lie."
Fillon last week cited the book as backing for his claim that Hollande was responsible for leaking information about an ongoing investigation into his wife's allegedly fake job.
That allegation drew an angry denial from the head of state, who said he had first learned of "the particularly serious affairs involving Mr Fillon" from the press.
The authors of the book also argued Fillon was wrong to quote them as saying Hollande maintained an apparatus for spying on his political rivals.
They did conclude that information about investigations "found its way" to higher authorities, co-author Olivia Recans said.
Fillon has sunk to third place in the polls since satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaine in January alleged that his wife had never worked for her publicly-funded salary as his parliamentary assistant.
He is now behind far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist former economy minister Emmanuel Macron, and risks elimination in the first round of polling on April 23.
Earlier this month, judges investigating the allegations about his wife placed him under formal investigation.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas dismissed as "fantastical" comments by Fillon at the weekend suggesting that Hollande was probably receiving transcripts of wire taps on his phone.
Decisions to place taps on the phones of suspects were made purely by investigative or supervisory judges and neither the ministry nor the candidate could be in a position to say if any candidate's phone was tapped, Urvoas argued.