Campbell is an 'unreliable witness', judge tells her legal team

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The Independent Online

The supermodel Naomi Campbell had been an "unreliable witness" during her two days of testimony in a groundbreaking privacy action against a national newspaper, the High Court was told yesterday.

Mr Justice Morland made the remark to lawyers representing the catwalk star during closing arguments in her claim that The Mirror unfairly revealed she was attending drug counselling sessions. The London-born model spent seven hours in the witness box this week being cross-examined on claims that she had lied about her addiction and exaggerated the effects of The Mirror's coverage.

She is claiming aggravated damages against the newspaper for breach of confidence and privacy after she was photographed leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in central London 12 months ago.

Desmond Browne QC, for Mirror Group Newspapers, accused Ms Campbell on Tuesday of "telling whoppers" by denying that she had admitted to a journalist that the Mirror article only briefly upset her.

The newspaper, which denies Ms Campbell's claim, has accused the model of lying over eight aspects of her evidence, ranging from an alleged drugs overdose to employing PR guru Matthew Freud.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Justice Morland told Andrew Caldecott QC, representing Ms Campbell, 31, that he "did find her in many respects an unreliable witness".

The lawyer replied that he would be making submissions about the "very significant difference" between unreliability and dishonesty in the model's testimony.

The Mirror is claiming that Ms Campbell's repeated willingness to use the media to further her commercial ventures by talking about her private life meant she was not entitled to the same privacy as a "man or woman in the street".

Earlier, Mr Browne used his closing argument to allege that Ms Campbell had "schemed and manipulated her public reputation – and now she must face the consequences".

The court heard that photographing the model at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting could not stigmatise her, as she had complained, because it showed she was seeking treatment for a problem. Accusing Ms Campbell of exaggerating the effects of the Mirror article, headlined "Naomi: I am a drug addict", Mr Browne denied that it had either caused her long-term upset or caused her to flee Britain. He said: "We say there is no question of substantial distress. Even if she was caused distress, it didn't last for more than five seconds and she was not driven from the country."

Legal submissions in the case are expected to end today.