Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist who is favourite to win the French presidential election, has dismissed rumours he has a gay relationship outside his marriage to Brigitte Trogneux.
In comments on Monday, tweeted by his spokeswoman, Macron brushed off rumours he was in a relationship with Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gallet. Talk of an affair has circulated for years and was recently picked up by Russian media.
“If you’re told I lead a double life with Mr Gallet it’s because my hologram has escaped,” Macron told supporters at a rally, apparently referring to a hologram presentation by a rival presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, last weekend.
The spokeswoman described Macron’s comments as “a clear denial of the rumours about his private life”.
“Brigitte is asking herself how I could physically do that. She shares my life from morning to night, and I never paid her,” Macron said, according to a tweet by a reporter at the event.
The reference to payment appeared to be a dig at another of his opponents, Francois Fillon, whose campaign has been hit by allegations his wife was paid for work she did not do.
It is the impact of that scandal which has put Macron in pole position to win the election this spring.
French media is traditionally wary of reporting about the private lives of public figures but, on Tuesday, Le Parisien newspaper carried a story about Macron’s rebuttal.
Uncertainty about the outcome of the election, taking place in two rounds on April 23 and May 7, has this week driven the premium that investors demand for holding French over German government debt to its highest for almost four years.
Opinion polls show Macron contesting the second round with Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, and winning it with a majority of about two-thirds.