Silvio Berlusconi’s lawyer is calling it a figment of the imagination. But a newspaper in Italy is standing by its release of a tape recording purported to be a bedroom conversation between the Italian Prime Minister and a female escort.L’espresso is shrugging off a warning from Berlusconi’s lawyer that it has broken the law. One of the paper’s journalists, Emiliano Fittipaldi, said: “I think Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, is just doing his duty of defending his client. If he really thinks these recordings are false and Berlusconi’s voice has been imitated, he will have to prove it. He said he’ll denounce it to prosecutors. He should do it.” Allegedly recorded on escort Patrizia d’Addario’s mobile phone, Berlusconi is purportedly heard asking her to wait for him in bed while he takes a shower. The bed is referred to on the tape as “Putin’s bed”. It is alleged that Berlusconi spent the night with the escort on the night of the US election, and she and others were paid to attend parties hosted by the Prime Minister. Reaction has been mixed to news of the tape. One man in Rome said: “It’s hard to believe it. As far as I know, papers do anything to sell more copies.” But another man said: “I’m astonished that Italians are no longer scandalised by the facts. In Britain they’ve resigned for much less than this. It gives an idea about the kind of country we’ve become.” Berlusconi has not denied that D’Addario went to his home, but says he did not know she was an escort. The woman has given recordings to magistrates investigating a businessman accused of abetting prostitution.