Nicola Sturgeon has laughed off rumours that she is embroiled in a secret lesbian love affair with a French diplomat.
The former first minister has been the subject of a series of lurid and unfounded rumours about her personal life, which have circulated on the internet, over recent years.
The most persistent has been that she was having an affair with a female foreign ambassador.
Judy Murray, the tennis coach and Andy Murray’s mother, even became drawn into the rumours about Ms Sturgeon’s supposed double life. It was said that Ms Sturgeon had purchased Ms Murray’s former home near Stirling to use as a secret love nest.
However, in a BBC podcast about her tenure as first minister, she said she had “had a laugh” about rumours involving her supposed lover.
Glenn Campbell, the BBC Scotland political editor, asked Ms Sturgeon on the podcast: “Which French diplomat are you having an affair with?”
Apparently unsurprised by the question, she replied laughing: “I’ll tell you off camera which one it’s supposed to be. But whichever one it is, we’ve actually had a laugh about it.”
In 2010, Ms Sturgeon married Peter Murrell, who was SNP chief executive until he resigned in disgrace last month after misleading the public over party membership numbers.
However, persistent rumours about Ms Sturgeon’s sexuality grew after she became first minister in 2014.
False claim about super-injunction
There have been widespread and untrue claims that Ms Sturgeon is protected by a super-injunction to prevent the media from reporting on her personal life.
Another claim spread about Ms Sturgeon was that she had a global property portfolio.
“I read accounts of my life on social media, and I think, ‘It’s so much more glamorous-sounding and so much more exciting’,” she said. “You know, I’ve got houses everywhere, if you believe social media.”
Ms Sturgeon announced her shock resignation as first minister in February, formally departing office last week. She said the desire for more privacy was “part of the reason” that she stood down.
“I’m not naïve, I’m not of the view that I will step down one day and be completely anonymous the next day,” she said. “I understand the realities of what I have done and I’ll still be in parliament, but I want to have a bit more privacy.
“I want to have a bit more anonymity and I just want to protect some of what people take for granted in their lives that I’ve forgotten to have.”
While Ms Sturgeon appeared to make light of the rumours, her friend, the author Val McDermid, suggested that they were more sinister.
“Some of the rumours I have heard about Nicola have just been laughable in their absurdity,” Ms McDermid said.
“But people say, ‘You know, I’ve heard this thing about Nicola Sturgeon’, and they see it as … this terrible thing that they have exclusive knowledge of. That’s b——s.
“She’s been a focus for the lies as well as the criticism. I think that’s deeply unpleasant.”