By Mark Lowen in Rome and Laura Gozzi
Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, says she has separated from her long-time partner Andrea Giambruno.
She announced the split on social media hours after a TV show broadcast explicit comments made off-air by TV host Giambruno to female colleagues.
Ms Meloni said the relationship, “which lasted almost 10 years, ends here. Our paths have been different for some time… it’s time to acknowledge it.”
The couple met in 2015 and they have a daughter aged seven.
In her post, the Italian leader also thanked Giambruno, 41, for the “wonderful years we spent together, for the difficulties we went through and for giving me the most important thing in my life, our daughter Ginevra”.
She added: “All those who sought to weaken me by striking my family should know that even if a water drop can hope to break a rock, a rock will always be a rock while a drop is just water.”
Giambruno found himself in hot water earlier this week after a satirical TV programme, Striscia La Notizia, broadcast comments he made off-camera, in which he appeared to flirt with a female colleague by telling her: “You’re so clever… Why didn’t I meet you sooner?”
More explicit off-air comments were then broadcast on Thursday, in which Giambruno was heard asking another colleague whether she was single or in an open relationship.
He is heard boasting about having an affair, saying “everyone” at Mediaset, the TV company he works for, “knows it, and now you do too”, and then makes lewd references to group sex.
Giambruno is heard asking: “Will you join our group, our working group?”
When another voice asks “What if Striscia has recorded you?”, he is heard to respond: “What did I say that’s so bad? We’re laughing, we’re joking around.”
The journalist has not yet spoken about either the prime minister’s social media post or his off-air comments.
But it is not the first time he has caused controversy. A few months ago, Giambruno commented on a gang-rape case by stating: “If you go dancing you have every right to get drunk.
“But if you avoid getting drunk and losing consciousness, maybe you would also avoid getting into specific problems because that’s when you find the wolf.”
Giorgia Meloni, 46, said at the time his words had been misinterpreted, and asked reporters not to “hold her accountable for what a journalist says while doing his job”.
She is known for her strong belief in traditional Catholic family values and rejects same-sex parenting.
Alessandro Zan, an MP from the centre-left Democratic Party and supporter of LGBTQ rights, said that “at least leave families who want to stay together in peace”.
Her allies also took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to show their support. Matteo Salvini, her deputy, said he was sending her “a big hug, my friendship and support. Go forward, head held high!”
Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said: “Giorgia, I’m sending you a hug.”
Mediaset was previously owned by the late Silvio Berlusconi, who was accused by his critics for debasing Italian television with a culture of sexism and machismo.