Fashion Scandal: Agency `exposed' on TV say BBC film was rigged

Executives accused of harrassing teenage hopefuls are reinstated but refuse to return to work until they are exonerated

THE ACCUSERS have become the accused. And, in what has become a grubby saga of sex, lies and videotape, all involved were being hit in the crossfire of frenzied mudslinging last night.

The BBC appeared to have dealt a knockout blow to Elite, the world's top model agency, with Donal MacIntyre's expose of exploitation of young girls in an industry long-known for its seedier side.

Two of Elite's senior executives, Gerald Marie and Xavier Moreau, resigned amid public outrage after one was caught on camera allegedly soliciting sex from a young model, and another making a racist remark. The agency confirmed yesterday that they had been reinstated but had "declined to take up their posts" until they were cleared. Elite also attacked the BBC's reputation, claiming the report was "rigged" and the programme was biased and unfair.

Mr MacIntyre, the reporter behind the programme MacIntyre Undercover, has yet to join the recriminations. But the BBC was forced to step into the fray and counter accusations that its programme was less than rigorously produced.

In fact, everyone involved is sinking into the mire, including a coterie of models who have defended the apparently indefensible and called for Mr Moreau and Mr Marie to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

In a fit of pique and taking full advantage of the growing confusion surrounding the scandal, both men yesterday said they would not return to work until they had cleared their names.

Mr Marie, the president of Elite Europe and ex-husband of super model Linda Evangelista, was filmed boasting about how he hoped to seduce contestants in the Elite Model Look contest where the average age is just 15.

He was also captured offering an undercover BBC reporter pounds 300 to have sex with him, which he has since dismissed as a "drunken joke".

Mr Marie also attacked claims in the programme by model Rebecca Howard, a finalist in the 1994 "Elite Look of the Year" final, that she was destroyed by drugs supplied by the fashion industry.

Mr Moreau, a close friend of black catwalk model Naomi Campbell and head of Elite Model Look, was broadcast remarking to friends over dinner: "Africa would be OK if they were all white," and later, "I don't like black girls."

Yesterday, Mr Marie admitted that some of his comments were not acceptable but roundly attacked the BBC for its reporting methods. "There was rigging in the editing, of course, there are phrases which are not justified for the images," he said, adding that "The language that one uses in bars is unacceptable, even if one was framed, even if it needed three months to gather several expressions. It's inexcusable."

A spokesman for Mr Marie said: "Of his own free will, he will stay in voluntary retirement so that the full light can be shed on this affair and on the manipulation of the (television) cassettes," and added that Mr Moreau's stance was the same.

Elite last night said "nothing had changed" since earlier this week when it issued a statement saying comments made on film were "embarrassing" but claimed the programme was "biased and flawed."

The company's chairman, John Casablancas, also attacked the integrity of the methods used saying "serious questions" had been raised.

But a BBC spokesman insisted that the programme had adhered to strict broadcasting guidelines over the use of secret filming. "It is only done where there is a strong public interest and in this case there clearly was," he said.

"All the secret filming had to be cleared by the programme's own controller of editorial policy following what are very strict guidelines," he said. "We stand completely by the programme and in our view what it shows really speaks for itself."

Mr MacIntyre, who posed as a fashion photographer to make the programme, could not be contacted yesterday. But in a book about the series he discusses broadcasting integrity and points out that he was monitored throughout by academics from London's City University to ensure it was maintained.

The Things They Said

Gerald Marie to undercover reporter Lisa Brinkworth: "I'll give you one million lire if you sleep with me." When she replied she didn't know him he said: "You don't have to know me. You are frigid, frigid."

Mr Marie defending himself later: "But what am I actually guilty of ? A few unfortunate words that were taken from a private conversation. I like women, real women, not little girls."

Xavier Moreau during a secretly-filmed dinner with friends: "Africa would be OK if they were all white. I don't like black girls."

Elite chairman John Casablancas when the scandal broke: "Shocking, unacceptable and totally incorrect." He also issued an "unconditional apology".

Mr Casablancas after the decision to re-instate Mr Marie and Mr Moreau: "This reversal was the result of the very serious questions raised regarding the integrity of the BBC's report and the doubts that have been raised in relation to Mr MacIntyre's investigative and editing measures."

Undercover reporter Donal MacIntyre on drugs in the fashion industry: "It is normal to talk about drugs in fashion. Everyone is either coming down or getting high."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before