The head of a fringe anti-European Union party, former French presidential candidate Francois Asselineau, has been charged over claims of sexual assault and harassment, a judiciary source said Friday.

Asselineau, 63, who fronts the Popular Republican Union (UPR) which has campaigned for France to leave the EU and NATO alliance, was arrested this week over the case that could bury his hopes of another stab at the presidency in 2022.

In his first run for the top job in 2017 he won just 0.92 percent of the vote.

Asselineau has been under investigation for sexual assault and harassment, both sexual and non-sexual, since May 2020, the Paris prosecutor's office told AFP.

Ex-presidential candidate Francois Asselineau dismissed the allegations as 'slander'
Ex-presidential candidate Francois Asselineau dismissed the allegations as 'slander' AFP / JACQUES DEMARTHON

Two former UPR employees filed complaints against Asselineau, who has dismissed the allegations as "slander".

His aides have insisted that the claims are false, and said that he will make a public statement "in the coming days".

France has been rocked by a wave of sex assault allegations against establishment figures in politics and the arts.

Other politicians to have faced accusations of sexual assault include Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and former environment minister Nicolas Hulot. Both men denied the allegations. Neither has been charged with a crime.