Alex Massie

Scandal? What scandal?

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Memo to Senator David Vitter: This is how you do it.

Paddy Agnew, reporting from Rome for The Irish Times , writes:

What does a public figure do when caught in flagrante with a prostitute? If you are an Italian deputy, the best line of defence would appear to be all-out attack, brazen it out and hope for the best.

At least, that seems to be the tactic adopted by 50-year-old Cosimo Mele, of the ex-Christian Democrat UDC party, deputy for the constituency of Brindisi, southern Italy.

The story began last Saturday morning when a "lady of the night" was rushed to Rome's San Giacomo hospital from the fashionable Hotel Flora in central Via Veneto. The 29-year-old woman, FZ, who was suffering from a cocaine overdose, reported that she and a "colleague" had taken part in a little party with a politician.

Given that the hospital doctors had called the police, news of the mystery politician and his Friday night out soon did the rounds, with speculation as to his identity ending only last Saturday evening when Mele put his hand up and admitted it was he. Despite the fact that he is the father of three children and is expecting a fourth child by his second wife, Adele, he appeared to feel no shame or embarrassment at his "misadventure".

Nor does the fact that the UDC has long promoted itself as a party that will defend Christian and family values strike him as at odds with his behaviour: "I say one thing to you out loud. How many deputies go to bed with prostitutes? It's not a crime. Of course I identify with Christian values but what have those got to do with going to bed with a prostitute? This is a private matter."

"Are you saying that I cannot be a good father and a good husband just because after five, six days away from home, I had a little adventure? My electors do not give a damn if I go to bed with a prostitute. What they want is for me to resolve our problems, the problems of our area," he told daily La Stampa .

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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