'They didn't tell me it was real' – Gwyneth apologises for fur ad

But animal rights activists say her explanation for fashion shoot rings hollow

The Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow has apologised to animal rights campaigners angry at her promotional work for an Italian fashion company that uses fur, ostrich and snake skin in its products.

Activists said in August that she should be ashamed of herself after she was photographed wearing a fox fur for the autumn collection of fur-lined boots and bags by the fashion company Tod's.

She is not the only celebrity to court controversy by advertising fur. Last month Liz Hurley appeared clad in mink for the US fur company BlackGlama. The firm's campaigns have previously featured Elle Macpherson, Gisele Bundchen and Cindy Crawford.

Ms Paltrow has been stung by the criticism, particularly as she and her husband, the Coldplay singer Chris Martin, are reported to be highly eco-conscious. Last week she explained that her promotion of fur was the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. Responding to questions from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) over how promoting fur could be reconciled with her eco-friendly image, she said: "That was awkward, because I do not wear fur at all. It was a day-long photoshoot on a boat near Capri, and there were all sorts of poses with all kinds of clothes – none with fur. During one set-up, a stylist came up from behind and draped a stole around my shoulders. I didn't pay much attention to it, and when I noticed it was fur I assumed it was fake fur but did not ask, so it's my fault. I know it's not a great excuse."

While her apology may help build bridges with her friend Stella McCartney, a vehemently anti-fur designer, many campaigners remain unimpressed. "Gwyneth's explanation rings hollow," said Andrew Tyler, the director of Animal Aid. "She's had months to set the record straight and only excuses herself when cornered. It seems it's all the fault of a stylist."

The British Fur Trade Association said the issue is not as simple as activists would have people believe: "Animal rights groups are entitled to their opinion, but many people do not share this opinion and it is certainly not reflected in the rising global demand for fur." No comment was available from Paltrow or Tod's yesterday.

The actress is likely to face further criticism from campaigners this week for promoting meat recipes in a newsletter sent out to subscribers of her goop.com website, where she describes how "turkey will always be the main event of Thanksgiving (at least in my house)" and recommends a series of decidedly non-vegetarian recipes, including one for stuffed turkey burgers that she says "were a giant hit" with her family.

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