Campbell 'threw phone at maid for stealing jeans'

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The stresses of life as a supermodel were laid bare when it emerged that the row that led to Naomi Campbell facing an assault charge began when she allegedly could not find a pair of jeans.

Prosecutors in New York revealed yesterday that the 35-year-old British model had been looking for the trousers she wanted to wear for an appearance on Oprah Winfrey's television show when the confrontation began with her housekeeper.

Ana Scolavino, 41, claims Ms Campbell hurled her mobile phone at the back of her head after accusing her of stealing the trousers when they could not be found at Ms Campbell's £2m Manhattan apartment.

The allegations from Ms Scolavino, who needed four stitches when she went to hospital after the altercation, coincided with a concerted media campaign by both sides to discredit each other's stories.

Ms Campbell said she had sacked the maid because items had gone missing from her home and described claims of an attack as "completely untrue".

The model has a history of rows with employees and, six years ago, pleaded guilty to striking her personal assistant with a phone during a tantrum. But in a statement, Ms Campbell accused her housekeeper, whom she had employed for 10 weeks, of using her past against her. The model said: "From the time she began working for me, I began questioning her about items I found missing. When I finally fired her for that and her erratic behaviour, she screamed, 'This is going to cost you a lot of money'. She is sadly mistaken if she thinks she can extract money from me by concocting lies by recycling old stories. I have asked my lawyer to look into filing both theft and extortion charges against her."

Ms Scolavino hit back in the pages of The New York Post, claiming she had fled the apartment in pain after the assault shortly after 8.30am on Thursday. "I couldn't believe the pain - I had so much pain back there," she said. The short and plump Chilean denied she had stolen clothes from the model. She said: "Do I look like I'd fit in her jeans?"

The maid claimed she had sometimes worked up to 14 hours a day and been working on the upper floor of the apartment when she was confronted by her employer about the jeans. Ms Scolavino said the model became enraged when she replied she did not know where the jeans were because they were not kept in her work area.

During a brief court appearance at Manhattan Criminal Court, Ms Campbell formally entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of second-degree assault.

The lawyer for the model, David Breibart, said he was confident she would be cleared of any wrongdoing. "It's frustrating to be wrongfully accused," he said. "She had nothing at all to do with hurting anyone. We'll see if there is any truth to this."

Ms Campbell was made the subject of an order not to approach or contact Ms Scolavino, who in turn was told to surrender her key to the apartment. Judge Richard Weinberg rejected applications to set bail at $3,500 (£2,000) and have Ms Campbell's passport confiscated. The model explained that she needed the document to travel to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela. She must appear in court again on 27 June.