Kidman tells court she feared death during car chase with photographer

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The Independent US

Nicole Kidman was so scared by a photographer who chased her car across Sydney almost three years ago that she crouched down on the back seat and burst into tears, afraid of an accident like the one that killed Diana, Princess of Wales, the film star told an Australian court yesterday.

Ms Kidman was testifying in a defamation suit brought by the photographer, Jamie Fawcett, against the Sydney Sun-Herald, which has accused him of wanting to "wreak havoc" on Ms Kidman's private life.

"I have been pursued many times in relation to this particular man, and the people he has employed to follow me," Ms Kidman told the court.

She cited three incidents – the chase through Sydney in January 2005, during her honeymoon with her current husband, Keith Urban, on the island of Tahiti, and an episode around Christmas 2006 when Ms Kidman and Mr Urban felt "trapped" at their beach house.

She also testified that her mother had spotted Mr Fawcett outside her town home in Sydney and that a listening device was subsequently found on the premises.

She said she was so unnerved by these episodes that she no longer felt safe driving herself and felt obliged to employ security guards round the clock.

"I employ people to protect me now ... because I don't feel equipped to handle things," she said.

Ms Kidman's appearance at the New South Wales Supreme Court caused a huge stir, with as much attention paid to her appearance as to her actual words. She sported a grey skirt, cream blouse and cardigan, and wore her at present curly golden hair in a bun.

Her testimony was not short on drama, but it was not immediately apparent just how often she had seen Mr Fawcett herself. She acknowledged she had only heard he was on Tahiti while on her honeymoon. During the beach house incident she was tipped off to his presence by her security guards, and it was her driver, John Manning, who told her Mr Fawcett was in pursuit as they drove across Sydney.

That, in turn, is likely to raise questions about exactly how intrusive Mr Fawcett – a photographer with a less than enviable reputation for persistence – has been.

But Ms Kidman was in no doubt about stress he had caused her. During the Sydney chase, she said, she was crouched down in a prayer-like pose – she demonstrated for the court – and was told by her driver that Mr Fawcett's car and another vehicle were "driving crazy". "I was frightened ... about a car accident. I was really, really scared," she added.

During the beach house incident, she said she was told by her security guards that Mr Fawcett was hiding in bushes nearby. "I didn't want to stay up there feeling trapped ... so we decided to drive back and we were pursued," she said.

When Mr Urban stopped the car to check their legal rights with Mr Fawcett, the photographer started taking pictures, she added.

Ms Kidman has a long history of friction with Mr Fawcett, against whom she once took out a restraining order, as well as other photographers in Australia and the US. In 1999, a freelance journalist was convicted in America of illegally taping an intercepted telephone call from Kidman to her then husband, the actor Tom Cruise, and selling the tape to a tabloid newspaper.