I'm no saint: Berlusconi breaks silence

Italian Prime Minister tries to laugh off sex-tape allegations

In his first comments since the escort tape scandal broke, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday attempted to laugh off embarrassing revelations that have again put his sexual appetite at the centre of international debate. At the opening of a motorway construction site near the northern city of Brescia, he declared: "I am not a saint, you've all understood that – I hope the people at La Repubblica understand it too," referring to the left-leaning newspaper which has led the investigation into his dalliances with young starlets and showgirls.

On Tuesday, La Repubblica and its sister publication, the news weekly L'Espresso, published the latest conversations taped surreptitiously by Patrizia D'Addario which she claims prove that she and Mr Berlusconi had a sexual relationship. Ms D'Addario, a high-class escort, claims she and other women were paid to attend parties at Mr Berlusconi's residence in Rome.

Mr Berlusconi's lawyer, Nicolo Ghedini, denied the authenticity of the tapes, calling them "completely improbable and the fruit of invention".

In one recording, Giampaolo Tarantini, the Bari businessman who is said to have procured prostitutes for the parties, is heard telling Ms D'Addario about the 72-year-old Prime Minister's predilection for unprotected sex.

In another, Mr Berlusconi is purportedly heard telling Ms D'Addario that he is waiting for her on what he described enigmatically as "Putin's bed".

But yesterday Mr Berlusconi appeared determined to brazen the scandal out in his usual way. Noting that the new Brescia-Milan motorway was due to be opened in 2013, when his mandate ends, he quipped: "We will all still be around, because how could the Italians do without us?" Last night, the Industry Minister, Claudio Scajola, told reporters: "Even with this defamatory, awful, campaign that is damaging the image of our country, Silvio Berlusconi remains the leader with the broadest support in Europe."

In some quarters the alleged proof of Mr Berlusconi's "drill-like" sexual prowess contained in the tapes may actually have reinforced his support. But the tide of sleaze does seem to be taking its toll on his popularity.

An opinion poll published by La Repubblica on Tuesday showed his approval rating falling below 50 per cent for the first time since he won a landslide election victory last year. The Catholic vote is thought to be looking particularly precarious – one reason, perhaps, why he is said to be contemplating a pilgrimage to the shrine of Padre Pio in the far south.

Meanwhile, Emilio Marzano the chief prosecutor in the southern city of Bari, leading the investigation into the activities of Mr Tarantini – who is now suspected of supplying cocaine, as well as call girls – said he was in possession of another six tapes.

This raised the possibility that the tapes might also find their way into the hands of the press. Mr Marzano denied that any of the sex tapes had been leaked from his office.

Ms D'Addario says that she released the recordings because Mr Berlusconi had reneged on a promise to help her with a family building project. None of the tapes released so far bear out the claim that he made such a promise.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam