Rhiannon Harries: 'Naomi Campbell really does have the oddest attitude to presents'

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The Independent Online

It was Linda Evangelista, one of Naomi Campbell's fellow supermodels, who claimed not to wake for "less than 10,000 dollars". Two geezers at the door bearing diamonds, we learnt last week, are what it takes to rouse Campbell from her Egyptian cotton sheets.

For those of us used to pictures of the model styled, coiffed, made-up and – increasingly – retouched to the max, it came as quite a shock to see Campbell in the environs of The Hague's War Crimes court as she gave evidence in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Though Campbell had clearly done her best to stage-manage her appearance with her prim cream blouse and hair in a demure chignon, there was nothing doing with that harsh lighting (although the special court's "greige" colour scheme had a touch of Chanel). I liked the Middle Eastern nazar talisman, traditionally worn to ward off evil, strung round her neck too. Subtle.

But it was her verbal self-presentation that really stunned. According to Campbell, she accepted a small pouch from two unknown men who pitched up at her door in the night. Campbell says she didn't bother looking at what was in the pouch until the following morning.

Of all the details in this bizarre affair, and all the weird things I know about Naomi Campbell (assaulting employees with mobile phones etc), this strikes me as one of the oddest. What kind of person is so incurious that they wouldn't have a quick peek immediately? Perhaps the kind of person who dines with the South African president but doesn't know Liberia is a country.

Or perhaps the kind of person who, as Campbell told the court, "receives gifts all the time". If Campbell was out to prove that she isn't a thoroughly acquisitive little madam – I presume that was the intended subtext when she explained that she gave the diamonds straight to "charidee" – then it backfired. Should you ever buy Ms Campbell a Christmas pressie, don't expect a thank-you note.

Of course, Campbell's former agent Carole White had an entirely different memory of the night. I felt sorry for White – clearly not as practised in court appearances as Campbell – during her evidence. At the opening of a trendy restaurant a couple of years ago I found myself on a table with a bunch of strangers including White. I was wedged at the end, next to a man apparently off his head on class A substances. I was just about to pick up my coat and announce that I'd left the gas on at home when White discreetly came to my rescue. Of course, had I been aware of that South Africa gathering, I would have known she was an old hand in gruesome social situations.