The Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth and his wife have said they are being stalked and harassed by a former friend who cannot bear being cut out of their life.
Firth, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of King George VI in The King’s Speech, named the alleged stalker in court papers as Marco Brancaccia, a journalist who is a childhood friend of Firth’s Italian wife, Livia Giuggioli, 48.
The couple live in Italy, which has strong anti-stalking legislation. Firth, who became an Italian citizen last year, married Giuggioli, a producer, in 1997. They have two teenage sons.
According to a report in The Times, which is based on a story in the Italian paper La Repubblica, Brancaccia is said to have made threatening telephone calls and texts to Giuggioli, before emailing photographs to her husband.
Firth complained to Italian prosecutors, The Times reports, and an investigation has been opened while Mr Brancaccia’s computer and phone have been seized.
“A complaint has been made by the couple to prosecutors and the police have been investigating,” a spokesman for Italy’s Carabinieri police is quoted as saying by The Times.
Mr Brancaccia, a journalist with the Italian news agency Ansa, reportedly started his campaign in September 2016 because he could not face being cut out of the life of his friend, and threatened to write compromising articles about the couple.
In the complaint, Ms Giuggioli stated that she lived in terror because of the stalking and thought he might be following her, La Repubblica said.
A spokesman for Firth was quoted by The Times as saying: “There is an ongoing criminal prosecution and it would be inappropriate to comment in this circumstance."
Brancaccia’s lawyers denied the claims, saying: “Mr Brancaccia has absolutely nothing to do with the events described and has already filed a legal complaint to protect his good name and his honour, and to be able to supply his version of the truth of what happened.
“The reconstruction of the events by La Repubblica does not correspond to what really happened,” they added.
The news agency which employs Brancaccia filed a report on the case yesterday, and said Mr Brancaccia remained an employee.