Monday 24 April 2017

Farrow is one of two witnesses to contradict supermodel

Mark Hughes

Campbell and Taylor were 'being charming to one another' and 'mildly flirting'

NAOMI Campbell's description of how she came to be given "blood diamonds" by an African warlord was flatly contradicted by her former agent yesterday.

Testifying at The Hague, Carole White said that the supermodel knew she was going to be given diamonds by Charles Taylor and that she had stayed awake waiting for the stones to arrive, before sharing Coca-Colas with the men who delivered them.

Ms White's sequence of events is almost unrecognisable from the version given to the court by Campbell last week. During her 90 minutes of evidence, the supermodel maintained that, following a dinner at which she had met Mr Taylor, she had been woken in the night by men she did not know and given what she described as "dirty-looking pebbles".

The supermodel said she did not know who was responsible for the gift and that she did not realise they were diamonds until it was suggested to her the following morning. This was rebutted by the actress Mia Farrow, who was also a guest at the 1997 dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela.

Giving evidence yesterday, Farrow said Campbell had come to breakfast the following morning and told a very different story. She told the court: "Ms Campbell entered the room. She was quite excited and said in effect, 'Oh my God, in the middle of the night I was awoken by knocking at the door and it was men sent by Charles Taylor and he sent me a huge diamond.'"

Discrepancies

If Farrow's evidence highlighted discrepancies in her and Campbell's recollections, Ms White's testimony painted an altogether different picture of the evening.

She said that Campbell had been sitting next to Taylor during the meal and that the pair had been "mildly flirting". She said that it was here that the supermodel had learnt she was going to be given diamonds.

She added that after the dinner there was talk about how the diamonds would be delivered, and it was decided that two men would collect them from Johannesburg and bring them to the house in Pretoria. After this, according to Ms White, she and Campbell waited for the stones to arrive.

White told the court: "We were sitting in the lounge . . . she was in communication with her phone, most likely by text.

"I believe she was in communication with a driver. Someone was informing her that the car was nearly there."

Twice, according to White, she and Campbell went into a garden to look for any approaching vehicles. But when the stones still failed to arrive, she and the supermodel went to their respective bedrooms.

White said she was then disturbed by two men throwing stones at her window. She continued: "When I looked down there were two guys and they said: 'We have something for Ms Campbell, can you let us in?' I knocked on Naomi's door and told her that the guys with the diamonds had arrived.

"I did not want to let them in, but she really wanted to let them in so I said: 'Give them a drink and be as quick as we can'."

Ms White said the men shared Coca-Colas with the model before giving her a piece of paper containing, according to White, "five or six" diamonds. Ms White added: "She opened them and showed them to me. They were quite disappointing because they were not shiny."

Ms White agreed with Campbell's testimony that she had given the diamonds to Jeremy Ractliffe, then the head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, with the suggestion that he could use them to raise money for the charity.

The issue of whether or not Campbell received diamonds from mr Taylor is crucial to the prosecution's case against the former president of Liberia. They are trying to prove that he armed rebel groups from Sierra Leone with weapons in exchange for conflict diamonds. If it can be proven that he gave diamonds to Campbell, it will show that he was easily able to source uncut diamonds.

Yesterday the defence team sought to discredit the evidence of Ms White and Farrow.

Courtney Griffiths QC suggested that Ms White's motivation for testifying was to strengthen her ongoing civil dispute with Campbell. Ms White claims she is owed two years of royalties by the model -- about $600,000 (€453,000) -- and 25pc of any future earnings she makes from her brand of perfume.

He told the court that Ms White had "betrayed" Campbell, producing photographs taken from the Facebook page of one of Ms White's employees at Premier Model Management. The pictures showed Ms White at a party on Thursday evening, hours after Campbell had given evidence at The Hague, bearing the caption: "blood diamond night".

The defence also claimed that Mia Farrow had a "pre-occupation" with Africa and was trying to further her own agenda by attempting to help in the prosecution of Mr Taylor. (© Independent News Service)

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