Former agent and Farrow line up to contradict Campbell

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The Independent Online

Naomi Campbell's description of how she came to be given "blood diamonds" by an African warlord was flatly contradicted by her former agent yesterday.

Testifying at The Hague, Carole White said that the supermodel knew she was going to be given diamonds by Charles Taylor and that she had stayed awake waiting for the stones to arrive, before sharing Coca-Colas with the men who delivered them.

White's sequence of events is almost unrecognisable from the version given to the court by Campbell last week. During her 90 minutes of evidence, the supermodel maintained that, following a dinner at which she had met Taylor, she had been woken in the night by men she did not know and given what she described as "dirty-looking pebbles".

The supermodel said she did not know who was responsible for the gift and that she did not realise they were diamonds until it was suggested to her the following morning. This was rebutted by the actress Mia Farrow, who was also a guest at the 1997 dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela.

Giving evidence yesterday, Farrow said Campbell had come to breakfast the following morning and told a very different story. She told the court: "Miss Campbell entered the room. She was quite excited and said in effect, 'Oh my God, in the middle of the night I was awoken by knocking at the door and it was men sent by Charles Taylor and he sent me a huge diamond.'"

If Farrow's evidence highlighted discrepancies in her and Campbell's recollections, White's testimony painted an altogether different picture of the evening.

She said that Campbell had been sitting next to Taylor during the meal and that the pair had been "mildly flirting". She said that it was here that the supermodel had learnt she was going to be given diamonds. White said Campbell was "very excited" and told her: "He is going to give me some diamonds."

She added that after the dinner there was talk about how the diamonds would be delivered, and it was decided that two men would collect them from Johannesburg and bring them to the house in Pretoria. After this, according to White, she and Campbell waited for the stones to arrive.

White told the court: "Naomi was very excited about these diamonds about to arrive. We were sitting in the lounge... she was in communication with her phone, most likely by text. I believe she was in communication with a driver. Someone was informing her that the car was nearly there."

Twice, according to White, she and Campbell went into a garden to look for any approaching vehicles. But when the stones still failed to arrive, she and the supermodel went to their respective bedrooms.

White said she was then disturbed by two men throwing stones at her window. She continued: "When I looked down there were two guys and they said: 'We have something for Ms Campbell, can you let us in?'. I knocked on Naomi's door and told her that the guys with the diamonds had arrived.

"I did not want to let them in, but she really wanted to let them in so I said: 'Give them a drink and be as quick as we can'."

White said the men shared Coca-Colas with the model before giving her a piece of paper containing, according to White, "five or six" diamonds. Ms White added: "They handed it to Miss Campbell and said, 'These are the diamonds'. She opened them and showed them to me. They were quite disappointing because they were not shiny."

White agreed with Campbell's testimony that she had, while on the Blue Train the following day, given the diamonds to Jeremy Ractliffe, then the head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, with the suggestion that he could use them to raise money for the charity.

The issue of whether or not Campbell received diamonds from Taylor is crucial to the prosecution's case against the former president of Liberia. They are trying to prove that he armed rebel groups from Sierra Leone with weapons in exchange for conflict diamonds. If it can be proven that he gave diamonds to Campbell, it will show that he was easily able to source uncut diamonds.

Yesterday the defence team sought to discredit the evidence of White and Farrow, both of whom are adamant that the diamonds received by Campbell came from Charles Taylor.

Courtney Griffiths QC suggested that White's motivation for testifying was to strengthen her ongoing civil dispute with Campbell. White claims she is owed two years of royalties by the supermodel – about $600,000 (£377,000) – and 25 per cent of any future earnings she makes from her brand of perfume.

He told the court that White had "betrayed" Campbell, producing photographs taken from the Facebook page of one of White's employees at Premier Model Management. The pictures showed White at a party on Thursday evening, hours after Campbell had given evidence at The Hague, bearing the caption: "blood diamond night".

The defence also claimed that Mia Farrow had a "preoccupation" with Africa and was trying to further her own agenda by attempting to help in the prosecution of Taylor.

The testimonies: Campbell, White and Farrow: how accounts differ

Quantity of diamonds

Naomi Campbell said she received "two, maybe three" diamonds.

Carole White said "five or six".

Mia Farrow said Ms Campbell told her it was one "huge" diamond, then later conceded that Ms Campbell had not used the word huge.

Who gave them to Campbell

All parties agree that two men visited Naomi Campbell during the night.

Ms Campbell said she did not know who had sent the men and only assumed they came on behalf of Charles Taylor after Mia Farrow or Carole White suggested so.

Ms Farrow said repeatedly that Ms Campbell was the one who suggested that the diamond or diamonds had come from Mr Taylor.

Ms White said that Ms Campbell not only knew the diamonds were from Charles Taylor, but that she had known that in advance of the diamonds being delivered to her room.

What they were

Ms Campbell said that she did not know that they were diamonds until Ms White or Ms Farrow suggested that was the case.

Ms Farrow said the suggestion that the stones were diamonds came from Ms Campbell.Ms White also said that Ms Campbell knew the stones were diamonds.

Seating arrangements at dinner

Ms White said Ms Campbell was sitting at the dinner with Charles Taylor on her left and Mr Taylor's Minister of Defence on her right.

Ms Campbell says she was sitting between Nelson Mandela and the music producer Quincy Jones.

Ms Farrow could not recall the seating arrangements.

When it was decided the diamonds would go to charity

Ms Farrow said that Naomi Campbell had announced: "Of course, I don't intend to keep the diamond. Of course I will give it to Madiba's [Mandela's] children's charity."

Ms Campbell said she had decided that she would give the stones to the children's charity, but that she had not discussed it with Mia Farrow at breakfast.

Ms White said that she had to persuade Ms Campbell not to keep the diamonds as it was illegal and so she should give them to charity.

The sequence of events that night

Naomi Campbell's story is simple: she was awoken in the night by an unexpected knock at her bedroom door. When she answered she was given a pouch and told it was a "gift for you".

She then returned to bed and, because she was tired, did not even check what was in the pouch until the next morning when she discovered what she thought were "dirty-looking pebbles". It was not until it was suggested they were diamonds that she realised their true identity.

Carole White tells a different story. She says that Ms Campbell and Mr Taylor had been flirting at the dinner table and Mr Taylor had told her he was going to get her a gift of diamonds. After the dinner, Ms White says, plans were made for Mr Taylor's staff to collect the diamonds from Johannesburg and bring them to the guesthouse where Ms Campbell was staying.

Ms White said that she and Ms Campbell went to the guesthouse and waited for the men to arrive.

She said Ms Campbell was in contact with the driver of the vehicle carrying the stones and that twice she and the supermodel had gone into the garden, believing the car was close.

Later they went to bed, but, before retiring, Ms White says she was disturbed by men throwing pebbles at her window. When she looked outside, the two men said they had something for Ms Campbell.

Ms White says the men were let in and had Coca-Colas with Ms Campbell before giving her the diamonds and leaving.

Mark Hughes