Campbell gives evidence at trial
Prosecutors have been accused of scoring a "spectacular own goal" after calling supermodel Naomi Campbell as a witness in the war crimes trial of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor.
The 40-year-old from Streatham, south London, admitted receiving "dirty-looking pebbles" from two men in the middle of the night after a party hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in September 1997. But she claimed she was never told who the gift was from, contradicting the accounts of her former agent Carole White, and actress Mia Farrow.
Campbell was forced to come to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, Holland, after prosecutors issued a subpoena.
They were hoping Campbell's evidence would provide a link between Taylor, 62, and so-called "blood diamonds", which he is said to have received from Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front. He is accused of arming and controlling the rebels, using diamonds to buy weapons which he allegedly shipped from Burkina Faso. Taylor faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Under questioning from prosecutor Brenda Hollis, Campbell told the court she was sleeping after the party when she heard a knock on the door. Two men handed her a small pouch, saying "a gift for you", before leaving without further explanation. She did not open the pouch until the next morning and even then was not sure what was inside.
During the tribunal, Ms Hollis tried to stop Campbell from interrupting before she finished her questions. She asked the model if she was nervous, to which Campbell replied: "I didn't really want to be here. I was made to be here so obviously I'm just wanting to get this over with and get on with my life. This is a big inconvenience for me. I really don't want anything to do with this and I care about the protection of my family."
In documents submitted to the court, Farrow said Campbell had provided an "unforgettable story" of the incident. Ms White said she had even held the diamonds in her own hands. The pair are due to give evidence next week.
But defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths QC said Ms White, who has launched a legal action against Campbell for breach of contract, was someone with "a powerful motive to lie" about her.
Ms Hollis later tried to disown Campbell, saying for "all practical purposes" she was not a prosecution witness as she had been unco-operative.
Speaking after the hearing, defence lawyer Courtenay Griffiths QC said the supermodel may have focused the eyes of the world on the trial, but ultimately her appearance was a "complete distraction" from the case. He said: "Our view is that the prosecution scored a spectacular own goal by calling Naomi Campbell."