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Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 18:47 UK

Italy PM 'offered escort EU seat'

Silvio Berlusconi in Milan (20 July 2009)
Silvio Berlusconi says there is nothing in his private life he is ashamed of

The escort at the centre of a sex scandal involving Silvio Berlusconi has said the Italian prime minister offered her a seat in the European Parliament.

Patrizia D'Addario told the BBC the plan was abandoned by his party, People of Freedom, after his wife complained.

He also did not pay her to sleep with him, but instead promised to resolve an issue over a building permit, she said.

The allegations follow the release of audio recordings purportedly of their liaison in his official Rome residence.

Mr Berlusconi has not denied that Ms D'Addario attended a party at the Palazzo Grazioli, but insists he did not pay for sex.

Mr Berlusconi's personal life has been under scrutiny since his wife, Veronica Lario, filed for divorce in May.

She said she could not stay with a man "who consorts with minors" after he attended the 18th birthday party in Naples of an aspiring model, Noemi Letizia.

The prime minister faced further scandal when photos were published of topless women and a naked man at his villa on Sardinia, and also of a celebrity using the prime minister's official jet to fly to the island.

'Construction project'

Ms D'Addario has said she was paid 1,000 euros (£855; $1,413) by Giampaolo Tarantini to go to a party in October 2008 at the Palazzo Grazioli with 20 other women.

Mr Tarantini, a businessman from Bari, is being investigated on suspicion of corruption and abetting prostitution.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

She alleged that she had been asked to return the following month and had spent the night with the prime minister, but was not paid.

In an interview with the BBC World Service's Europe Today programme, Ms D'Addario said Mr Berlusconi had instead promised to help her "get a construction project moving" in Bari by resolving a problem with planning permission.

"There was an issue that was close to my heart and because of my father's death, because of his suicide," she said.

"It needed speeding up," she added. "The prime minister said he could help me and that's why I stayed."

Veronica Lario (file)
The proposal to field a string of female candidates angered Veronica Lario

But Ms D'Addario said nothing was done to resolve the planning issue and that she was instead offered the chance of being a candidate for Mr Berlusconi's political party in June's European parliamentary elections.

The proposal earlier this year that the People of Freedom field a string of female candidates with little political experience, including an actress and a reality TV show contestant, caused widespread criticism throughout Italy, led by Mr Berlusconi's wife.

"They asked me for my CV, I gave them my CV. Giampaolo Tarantini took my CV," Ms D'Addario told the BBC.

"The next day, Giampaolo Tarantini's secretary called me and said: 'Look, right now Tarantini is with the prime minister and there's been a problem with the prime minister's wife, Veronica Lario. You can't be a candidate anymore.'

"'Veronica Lario is angry, so let's postpone this whole thing with the European Parliament and the actresses and starlets,'" she added.

Tape recorder

Ms D'Addario said she had decided to record her conversations with Mr Berlusconi independently because since enduring a "negative experience" with a former lover she never left home without a tape recorder and thought it would be prudent.

Palazzo Grazioli (file)
Ms D'Addario says she spent the night at the Palazzo Grazioli in Rome

She denied that she had been paid for the recordings published by left-wing Italian newspapers, as has been suggested by the prime minister's allies, including Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

"I have never been paid by the press to make any kind of interview or revelation," she said.

"When Frattini accused me of being paid, then I said he should go to the magistrates and prove it. And if he can't do that, then to stop making those accusations," she added.

Neither the Italian foreign ministry nor the prime minister's office were available on Friday for comment on Ms D'Addario's allegations.

Mr Tarantini's lawyer, Nicola Quaranta, told the BBC: "We are not going to comment on interviews that Patrizia D'Addario is giving to the media.

"It is strange that during a criminal probe she is even talking to the media about the allegations she made with the judicial authorities in Italy."

"We do not know until the investigations are completed what Giampaolo Tarantini is accused of. We don't think Patrizia D'Addario is telling the truth," he added.



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