Nick Clegg has angrily denied "garbage" newspaper reports that his wife influenced his reaction to the Lord Rennard affair which still threatens to embroil his party.
The Liberal Democrat leader said it was "just not on" to drag politicians' relatives into news stories, and said the stories had no basis in fact.
The Rennard affair - centring around allegations that the Liberal Democrat peer sexually harassed several female party workers - has rumbled on for months. It came to a head earlier this week when Rennard, who denies all the claims, was suspended after refusing to bow to calls from Mr Clegg to apologise to the women.
Speaking on LBC radio on Wednesday, Mr Clegg was asked about reports that it was the fury of his wife, Miriam, which led him to take the strong line. The Daily Telegraph had reported that Mrs Clegg was understood to have thought the party “let down” female activists by failing to take their concerns seriously.
But Clegg said: "I've read so much garbage over the last several days about what I think, what my motives are, what I've done here, what I've done there, and now suddenly claims are being made about conversations which, if they took place, would take place probably in the privacy of the Clegg kitchen.
"It's total garbage, it is a complete work of fiction."
He also strongly defended the principle that politicians' families should be left out of the news.
"Look," he said, "you can make up stuff about me, as indeed people do day in day out, have a go at me, but just don't drag Miriam into it, don't drag politicians' families into it. That's just not on."