The "brazenly scandalous and malicious" claim in a new book that slain former premier Benazir Bhutto once had a love affair with cricketer-turned- politician Imran Khan has "gravely hurt" her family members, Pakistan's envoy to the UK said on Thursday.
Benazir, who has been the chairperson of Pakistan's ruling PPP, did not have anything ever to do with Khan while studying in England's famous Oxford University, High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan said in a press statement.
The contradiction by Hasan, a close confidante of Benazir, comes in the wake of a new biography of Khan by Christopher Sandford which claimed the cricketer and the renowned beauty had enjoyed "a close and even a 'sexual' relationship" while studying at Oxford.
"While the Bhutto family members are gravely hurt by the baseless lies, it has been most profoundly painful for me since the former prime minister was like a younger sister to me and throughout my long association with her no one could point a finger at her impeccable character," he said.
Hasan described the claims as "brazenly scandalous" and malicious". He termed the story as an attempt to malign "Pakistan's most popular leader who unfortunately cannot defend herself from her grave."
Sandford claimed Benazir became infatuated with Khan and the cricketing legend's mother had once unsuccessfully attempted to fix an arranged marriage between the two.
Hasan said Benazir "never had any affair with any one" and her marriage with Asif Ali Zardari, now the President of Pakistan, was arranged by the two families in keeping with traditions. Khan too has contradicted the claims, he said.
He added: "This is nothing but the cheapest possible way for marketing the new biography of Imran Khan".
Sandford, who interviewed both Khan and his ex-wife Jemima for his book, claims a source told him that Benazir was 21 and in her second year of studying politics at Lady Margaret Hall when she became close to Khan in 1975.
The source told Sandford that Benazir had been "visibly impressed" by Khan.
"In any event, it seems fairly clear that, for at least a month or two, the couple were close. There was a lot of giggling and blushing whenever they appeared together in public," Sandford told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.
Khan has denied that he ever had a relationship with Benazir. He said: "Yes, I was interviewed (for the book), but I know nothing about the rest of what has been written. So it is not official.
"It is absolute nonsense about any sexual relationship or my mother and an arranged marriage. We were friends - that's all".