Crowning glory for beauty queen stripped of her title

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Six years almost to the day since she was disqualified as Miss Hungary for having posed naked, beauty queen Antonia Balint was re-awarded her crown yesterday after winning a court case against the organisers.

Ms Balint and second-placed Timea Raba were both disqualified immediately after the 1991 pageant when Hungarian newspapers printed photographs that had previously appeared in the men's magazine Lui and other publications. Erich Reil, the man who wrote the rules for Miss World, said Ms Balint should hand her prize back. The local organisers, Multimedia, then re- claimed the two contestants' prize money and named third-placed Orsolya Michna as the new Miss Hungary, sending her to the Miss World finals in London.

"I felt it was a huge injustice at the time because there was nothing in the contract I signed which said I'd done anything wrong," Ms Balint said as she clutched her sceptre after yesterday's award ceremony.

"The rule had been completely mistranslated in the contract we signed with Multimedia," Ms Balint's lawyer Katalin Kiszely said. "Instead of the clause about not being allowed to pose nude there was a sentence saying contestants who had done such pictures should not allow other magazines to publish them during the competition."

Ms Balint was to have received a Renault Clio as well but never saw it. She refused to hand over the crown and sceptre and locked them away for six years in her parents' home.

A Budapest court finally ruled this month that Multimedia had misled Ms Balint, and awarded her damages plus the price of the Renault car plus interest, estimated at a total $30,000 (pounds 18,000) - allowing her to take the crown out of storage.

"It's been frustrating not to be able to look at it for six years but I can finally call it mine," she said.

Duncan Shiels, Reuters