6 Apr 2012

Northern League leader resigns

10:03 am on 6 April 2012

In Italy, Umberto Bossi has resigned as head of the Northern League, amidst a financial scandal.

The Northern League is the only party in opposition to the government led by Prime Minister Mario Monti.

A former party treasurer is suspected of misusing funds. Party money was used to pay for the renovation of Mr Bossi's villa as well as travel and expensive cars for his children.

The BBC reports Mr Bossi denies any wrongdoing himself. News of his resignation emerged on Thursday.

Mr Bossi, 70, rose to prominence on a separatist platform in the 1980s. In 1996, the party took more than 10% of the vote.

He has been named honorary president of the league.

A BBC correspondent says the scandal is all the more embarrassing for him because he has always been bitterly contemptuous of the corruption that plagues much of public life in Italy.

He frequently criticised "the corrupt and lazy South" for draining hard-earned wealth from the North.