UK

Supermodel Campbell defends war crime trial testimony

  • 10 August 2010
  • From the section UK
Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell says suggestions she does not care about suffering in Africa are hurtful

Naomi Campbell has said she had "nothing to gain" from lying at the war crimes trial of ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor.

In a statement issued five days after giving evidence, the British supermodel said: "I've no motive here."

It accepted she had chosen her words "poorly" in describing her appearance as a witness as a "big inconvenience".

It is alleged Ms Campbell received "blood diamonds" from Mr Taylor after a dinner in South Africa in 1997.

The statement released by Ms Campbell's PR agency, Outside Organisation, comes as several British newspapers suggested doubts have been cast over her testimony.

"I am a black woman who has and will always support good causes especially relating to Africa," she said.

In her evidence, London-born Ms Campbell, 40, said she was woken by two strangers in the middle of the night, and given a pouch containing a few "dirty-looking stones".

She put it by her bed and did not examine it until she woke the next morning, she said, and explained she was not accustomed to receiving diamonds in a cloth pouch, only in a box.

But the court has heard conflicting evidence since from fellow guests - her former agent Carole White and the actress Mia Farrow - about the gift and its origin.

The statement reiterated that events took place 13 years ago and recollections could be hazy.

"It should be noted that Naomi, Mia Farrow and Carole White all made it clear that they didn't really know who Taylor was or much about Liberia at the time.

"Hardly surprising as Taylor had only been elected a month or so previously.

"The term 'blood diamond' was not in existence then and only came into the public domain in a speech by Bill Clinton in 2001 and was of course brought to the wider attention when the film of the same name was released in 2006."

Further on, it quoted Ms Campbell as saying: "I've never taken any of the jobs offered to me, over my 25 years as a model, from companies that were for apartheid in South Africa."

The statement also sought to clarify her claim that attending the war crimes trial had been an "inconvenience".

"Campbell accepts the use of the word 'inconvenient' was a poor choice of word but it was made off-the-cuff and was taken massively out of context," it read.

"It was in relation to a nonsensical question as to whether or not she was nervous appearing in court."

'Helpful'

It also stressed Ms Campbell's commitment to good causes, saying she has contributed to and helped raise considerable sums for Africa,.

"The suggestion that Campbell in some way doesn't care about the plight of those suffering in Africa is ridiculous and hurtful," it said.

"Naomi Campbell was in South Africa helping a charity, had the diamonds for a matter of hours and handed them over to a representative of Nelson Mandela's children's charity.

"She was not on trial in the Hague and was as helpful towards the court as she could be," it said.

Mr Taylor is standing trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, sitting in The Hague.

He faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, all of which he denies, over his alleged role in the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, where he is accused of backing rebels responsible for widespread atrocities.

Prosecutors are trying to link the former Liberian leader to the diamonds that Ms Campbell received. He has denied having anything to do with the trade in so-called blood diamonds.

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