New scandal for Berlusconi on eve of key vote

Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was facing embarrassing new sex allegations yesterday on the eve of a confidence vote that is crucial for the survival of his government.

Maria Teresa "Terry" De Nicolo, 38, who worked for an escort agency, said she had shared a bed with the 73-year-old media mogul and two other girls during one of the notorious "festini" or adult parties at his Rome residence in September 2008.

Her statement to public prosecutors investigating corruption claims was leaked to the left-of-centre La Repubblica newspaper. "I, the two girls from Rome and Berlusconi were in the bed," Ms De Nicolo's statement said. She said there were 15 girls at the party and when she left the next morning Mr Berlusconi gave her a gift of jewellery.

Ms De Nicolo said she had received €1,000 (£830) to attend the party at the Palazzo Grazioli from Gianpaolo Tarantini, a businessman from the southern city of Bari who is under investigation for alleged corruption.

Patrizia D'Addario, a 43-year-old prostitute at the centre of a sex scandal which erupted around Mr Berlusconi last year, made similar allegations. She secretly taped her alleged pillow talk with the Prime Minister, and gave it to newspapers. In a book she also detailed her nights with Mr Berlusconi in toe-curling detail. Mr Tarantini denies any wrongdoing.

The fresh embarrassment for Mr Berlusconi came as government whips were preparing for today's vital vote in parliament and ahead of a meeting with David Cameron in Rome.

Mr Berlusconi warned senators on Monday evening that if government rebels succeeded in overturning his majority in today's vote on the junior justice minister, he would call an autumn election.