One of Italy’s former finance ministers is suing a member of the new Vatican financial reform panel and also journalists over claims about his sexuality and public standing.

The Vatican has reportedly launched an inquiry into the hiring of Francesca Chaouqui, 30, who was appointed as PR officer for a new papal committee set up to overhaul the Vatican’s financial administration in July.

Before her appointment, the former Ernst & Young communications manager made prolific tweets about affairs at the Holy See.

In a tweet published in March, Ms Chaouqui described the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, as corrupt and claimed that he was involved in dubious business deals with an unnamed company from the Veneto region.

In other online messages she fuelled rumours over Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, saying he was seriously ill with leukaemia, and claimed that former Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti was gay and corrupt.

After the tweets were republished in Italian media, her account was deleted.

She claimed other people had access to her Twitter account and that images of her tweets were fabricated.

“I’m not worried because the Holy Father is not worried,” she said.

On Thursday, Giulio Tremonti, who served as a finance minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s government, told the ANSA news agency: “I am taking legal action against (Francesca) Immacolata Chaouqui as well as (newspaper) employees and publishers.”

Another of those being sued is Alessandro Sallusti, editor of Il Giornale, the daily Italian newspaper that printed the allegations.

The legal action stems from Ms Chaouqui’s tweet about Mr Tremonti.