London: An Italian former model-turned-Cabinet Minister, once voted the "world's sexiest politician", had a fling with a rebel MP, the latter's spurned wife claims.

In an interview with an Italian magazine, Gabriella Buontempo claimed that she had known about her husband Italo Bocchino's alleged affair with the 35- year-old Equal Opportunities Minister, Mara Carfagna, for two- and-a-half years.

"It's not as if I didn't know that he (her husband) had that relationship. The affair is now over. Italo insists that he's broken off the relationship," 44-year-old Buontempo said.
Her husband, 45-year-old Bocchino, a former supporter of Silvio Berlusconi, is now a member of a political group led by the Italian Prime Minister's arch rival.

Asked if she had forgiven her husband, Buontempo said that they were still together, adding, "What happens within a marriage is known only to the husband and the wife. He didn't handle it well, the whole of Parliament knew, it only came to my knowledge later."

Carfagna had been groomed politically by her husband and he was able to steer her as if by "remote control", she was quoted as saying.

Buontempo said it was a good thing the alleged affair had ended because Carfagna is planning to marry her boyfriend, the heir to a Rome-based construction business, in June.

Carfagna has refused to comment on the saga. Bocchino also declined to comment, adding, "I am concerning myself with politics."