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Spanish actress Loles Leon wins payout after falling down stairs in Jeremy Irons' hotel suite

When Loles Leon accompanied Jeremy Irons back to his Madrid hotel suite after an evening of dinner and dancing, she was hoping for a romantic encounter.

The Spanish actress was smitten by the "charming" British star of Brideshead Revisited after meeting him in a television studio. Mr Irons invited several people back to his hotel for drinks and while the happily married actor had no amorous intentions, Miss Leon was thrilled to be in his company.

Alas, the evening ended not in a passionate embrace, but in hospital. As Miss Leon stepped into the pitch-dark suite and fumbled for the light switch she tumbled down a flight of 18 stairs, breaking her wrist and pelvis.

Yesterday, as she accepted £39,000 (€45,000) in damages from the five-star Santo Mauro hotel following a decade-long legal battle, Miss Leon described the disastrous evening.

"We met on a television programme called Vertigo. Later we went to dinner, to dance. We were with five or six people and we decided to go for one last drink in the hotel," explained Miss Leon, whose CV includes the Oscar-nominated Pedro Almodovar film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, in which she appeared opposite Antonio Banderas.

"As Jeremy is such a gentleman he insisted I went in [to the suite] first. There was a staircase. I went to turn the light on and I fell. I went flying. Everyone was screaming, including me.

"They didn't know what had happened to me. Jeremy ran to reception to tell them to bring a torch to see what had happened. There were 18 steps, and I fell to the bottom. I could have been killed."

Miss Leon, 57, made no secret of her intentions towards Mr Irons, 61, best known for his roles as Charles Ryder in the 1981 television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited and Claus von Bulow in the 1990 film Reversal of Fortune. He has been married to Sinead Cusack, the award-winning actress, since 1978.

She told a Spanish newspaper: "In court they asked me what I was going to do in the room. I told them, 'Listen, I am a big girl and I can do whatever I like'. I don't have to explain myself to anybody.

"He was married... I went with him so I could tell my girlfriends. To tell them I had spent the night with Jeremy Irons.

"But God knows what would have happened if I hadn't fallen. We had a very good feeling all night. He was charming. We spoke in French about the theatre and writers."

Mr Irons was concerned for Miss Leon's welfare and sent her gifts during the 36 days she spent in hospital, she claimed. "Jeremy sent me sweeties and bunches of flowers. He sent me several, even from England."

Although she has not seen him since the accident in October 1999, she said: "It's funny because every time he sees Penelope Cruz or Antonio Banderas he asks them about me, they tell me. 'What happened to that girl who fell down the stairs?'"

Miss Leon sued the Santo Mauro for £480,000 (€553,000) but the Supreme Court in Madrid awarded her £39,000 (€45,000), finding the hotel partially responsible for the accident because there was no emergency lighting in the suite.

The hotel is a favourite with celebrities and was the scene of David Beckham's alleged affair with his personal assistant, Rebecca Loos.

Miss Leon's claims are the latest colourful incident in Mr Irons' private life. In 2001, he was photographed in an embrace with a co-star, Patricia Kaas, outside a Soho nightclub. He dismissed it as an innocent goodnight kiss. "What's true is that I do love women, and I have a habit of affectionately toucning them. That's just the way I am when I'm working. I'm not this wild, nightclubbing playboy chasing women all over the world."

In 2006 he told an interviewer: "Have I been unfaithful? I never talk about these things. I sometimes make jokes. Sinead says, 'Don't talk about it at all'."

He has described his marriage to Miss Cusack, with whom he has two sons, as "completely dysfunctional", adding: "I'm a very difficult person; my wife's a very difficult person. People are difficult. Living together is difficult. But that is precisely what we both need."

Mr Irons was unavailable for comment last night.

© Telegraph.co.uk