Bonaiuti, journalist and Berlusconi spokesman, dies at 79

 ROME – Paolo Bonaiuti, journalist and a former spokesman for ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was a respected friend of foreign journalists from across the political spectrum, has died at the age of 79.

 Bonaiuti, held a variety of senior journalism posts, becoming vice-director of Il Messaggero, before becoming a politician.  Universally known as “Paolino,” he spent 18 years with Berlusconi.

 Berlusconi wrote: “I mourn, with all my collaborators, the death of Senator Paolo Bonaiuti. Him, who was a successful journalist, I asked to become my spokesman and to accompany me in my experience at the Presidency of the Council, where he was long an appreciated Undersecretary.

 “He was a particularly valuable collaborator and above all a great friend with whom I shared a long journey. I have missed him a lot in these recent years and I will miss him even more now that he has disappeared prematurely.”

 Bonaiuti was born July 7 1940 in Florence.  He graduated in law and worked as an English teacher and a copywriter in advertising before becoming a journalist.

 He joined Il Messaggero in 1984 and became vice-director in 1992.  He was initially very critical of Berlusconi in his editorials, but in 1996 he was elected as a Forza Italia parliamentary deputy.

 He was in parliament for four consecutive legislatures, serving as Undersecretary of State in the second and third Berlusconi governments.

 From 2008 to 2011, he served as spokesman in the fourth Berlusconi government.  He was always by Berlusconi, to moderate, check and explain the prime minister’s words.

 In 2013 he was elected senator.  In April 2014 he joined Angelino Alfano’s New Centre-Right, following a difficult break with Forza Italia:

 “I am going because I no longer share this party’s management, tones, passwords, fashions, line… For 18 years, I have been by your side always, in every decision!” he shouted at Berlusconi, according to the Corriere della Sera.

 When the New Centre-Right dissolved in March 2017, he joined the Popular Alternative.

 He was generally highly regarded by journalists – he was always in contact with his friends in the press and ready to give them news.  Corriere della Sera describes him as a competent, refined and elegant man whom it was difficult to anger.

 A number of senators and deputies have expressed their regret at his death, which follows a long illness.