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My husband would never have an affair, says Carla, as rumours link Sarkozy to karate-kicking minister

Carla Bruni, the singer-wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has vouched for the fidelity of her husband after rumours of an affair.

A flurry of internet gossip had suggested that the golden couple's marriage was in difficulty.

Ms Bruni was asked whether she trusted her husband. "Oh yes, very much," she said. "He would never have affairs."

Ms Bruni also said she hoped that their marriage would last forever. The comment was the only allusion from the Sarkozys to gossip on blogs and social networking sites about their marriage.

Rumours have swirled around the couple since they married in February 2008. The latest testified to the new power of Twitter, from which the rumour originated, and the social networking sites on which it then evolved.

It started on Saturday when Benjamin Biolay, an old friend of Mrs Sarkozy who is her main songwriter, won two Victoires, the annual music industry awards.

A journalist joked on Twitter that Mr Biolay had enjoyed favouritism. Rumours of a Biolay-Bruni liaison took off and were relayed by a blog on a French Sunday newspaper site.

The newspaper was then erroneously cited by some European media as authority for the tale. On Sunday Chantal Jouanno, Mr Sarkozy's junior Minister for the Environment, made the news by winning a national karate competition.

That prompted internet jokes that she could be romantically involved with the President.

That in turn sparked rumours that were picked up by celebrity gossip sites. Ms Jouanno's spokesman called them outrageous. The mainstream French media have eschewed the whole story.

Rather than separating, as some of the latest gossip claims, the French presidential couple has been criticised for spending too much time together lately.

Mr Sarkozy drew fire from farmers ten days ago when he chose to spend the weekend at Ms Bruni's holiday home on the Riviera rather than attend the opening of the annual Paris farm show. French presidents traditionally inaugurate it.

Mr Biolay's lawyers said that they intended to take legal action against the internet users who started the rumour last weekend.