Berlusconi paid me to go to his party, woman says

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi denounced as "garbage" a newspaper interview with a woman who said she had been paid €1,000 (£850) to attend a party at his Roman residence.

The allegations appeared in the newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview with Patrizia D'Addario that added fuel to the scandal that has enveloped the premier over his purported fondness for young women.

Ms D'Addario said she had attended two parties at Mr Berlusconi's house and had been paid €1,000 for having come from Bari, in south-eastern Italy, to attend one of them. She also said she had been asked to run in local elections for a party affiliated with Mr Berlusconi's Freedom People's Party.

In a statement, Mr Berlusconi denounced Italian newspapers as filled with "garbage and lies".

"I will not be deterred by these aggressions and I will continue to work as always for the good of the country," he said.

Ms D'Addario said that during one party, she and about 20 other young women had been shown a video of Mr Berlusconi's meeting with the former US president George W Bush and photos of Mr Berlusconi's villas. She said that the Prime Minister – a former cruise ship crooner – had also sung for them and told jokes.

She could prove her attendance because she wore a recording device. "You can hear his voice, and besides there were many witnesses, people who can't deny having seen me," Corriere quoted Ms D'Addario as saying.

Mr Berlusconi's lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, said the report was beyond "any factual or logical connection", and that Ms D'Addario was clearly disgruntled because she had failed to win in the first round of local voting earlier this month.

Corriere ran the interview alongside a front-page story saying that Bari prosecutors had intercepted phone calls of a Berlusconi acquaintance discussing payments to women to attend the Prime Minister's parties.

Mr Ghedini said he knew nothing of any such investigation. AP

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