Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Mandela charity official quits

The ex-chief of a Nelson Mandela charity is resigning from its board after the revelation that he secretly kept diamonds passed on to him by supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Campbell told the war crimes trial of ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor that she handed them as a donation to Jeremy Ractliffe after she was given them by two unidentified men after a 1997 charity dinner.

The prosecution says they were 'blood diamonds' from Taylor.

The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund said on Thursday that Mr Ractliffe will leave its board this month.

Mr Ractliffe, chief executive for the Children's Fund in 1997, gave them to South African authorities after Campbell's testimony this month at Taylor's trial.

Prosecutors called Campbell to help prove Taylor traded in illegal diamonds to arm Sierra Leone rebels. Taylor was also an architect of Liberia's civil wars.

The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund said on Thursday that Mr Ractliffe will leave its board this month.

In a statement, the Children's Fund said Mr Ractliffe regretted not having informed other officials about receiving the three uncut diamonds earlier, "and acknowledges that had he done so, he and the board could have found a better and lawful way to manage the situation."

It added Mr Ractliffe had apologised "for the anxiety and possible reputational risk his conduct may have caused". The fund said he would not seek re-election in a board vote scheduled later this month and would resign from the board of the fund's US affiliate.

Mr Ractliffe, a respected businessman, has said he kept the stones and did not report them to authorities in a bid to protect the reputations of Mandela, Campbell and the charity, of which he was a founder.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph