John McCain, the US Senator from Arizona who is the frontrunner to receive the Republican party nomination for President, today rejected media reports that he had an extra-marital affair.

The New York Times yesterday claimed he had a relationship with Vicki Iseman nine years ago when Senator McCain was also running for President.

“I’m very disappointed in the article. It’s not true,” he told a press conference in Toledo, Ohio.

“I’ve served this nation honourably for more than half a century. At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust.”

The 71-year-old, a former Air Force pilot who was held as a prisoner of war by the Vietnamese for five years, described Ms Iseman as a friend.

The Times story had implied that while a member of the Senate Commerce Committee he formed a romantic attachment to her.

It claimed that some of the Senator’s aides had warned him about their close relationship and tried to keep her away from him at public events and block her access.

40-year-old Ms Iseman works as a lobbyist for Alcalde and Fay, whose telecommunications clients appeared before the committee and subsequently donated large sums of money to McCain’s campaigns for the Republican nomination.

Senator McCain’s wife Cindy appeared with him at today’s press conference.

“My children and I not only trust my husband, but know that he would never do anything to not only disappoint our family, but disappoint the people of America. He’s a man of great character,” she said.