Melania Trump sues Daily Mail and US blogger in £113 million libel case over past sex work claims

The Daily Mail retracts the story in a post on its website and in the newspaper

Katie Forster
Friday 02 September 2016 07:30 BST
Melania Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention
Melania Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention (Rex Features)

Melania Trump has filed a $150 million (£113 million) lawsuit against the Daily Mail and a US blogger, saying they published false claims about her past.

A Daily Mail story last month cited a Slovenian magazine's report that a modelling agency Ms Trump worked with in New York in the 1990s also served as an escort business, linking wealthy clients with women for sexual services.

Late on Thursday, the Daily Mail retracted the story in a posting on its website and in the newspaper.

The Daily Mail said it “did not intend to state or suggest that these allegations are true, nor did it intend to state or suggest that Mrs. Trump ever worked as an 'escort' or in the 'sex business.'”

However, Ms Trump's lawyer Charles Harder told CNN Money she would be proceeding with her lawsuit despite the Daily Mail's retraction.

Ms Trump, 46, was born in Slovenia and moved to the US to work as a model in the 1990s. She married billionaire and US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2005.

In a statement, Mr Harder said she was suing the British newspaper and a US blogger, Webster Tarpley, over stories about her past she believes were “tremendously damaging”.

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Ms Trump had notified the British newspaper and other news organizations on 22 August that she would take legal action, her lawyer Charles Harder said in an email at the time, calling the reports “outright lying.”

“These defendants made several statements about Mrs. Trump that are 100% false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

The lawsuit alleges that Mr Tarpley published “false and defamatory statements” about Ms Trump, including that the former model had suffered from “a full-blown nervous breakdown.”

“Defendants' actions are so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs. Trump that her damages are estimated at $150 million dollars,” her lawyer's statement said.

Mr Harder also represented Hulk Hogan in his defamation suit against the now-defunct US website Gawker for publishing a sex tape clip.

The Daily Mail retraction statement in full

On August 20, 2016, an article was published in the Daily Mail newspaper titled 'Racy photos, and troubling questions about his wife's past that could derail Trump.'

The article discussed whether allegations being made about Melania Trump could negatively affect her husband Donald Trump's presidential bid. Among other things, the article noted that allegations have been made in a book available on Amazon about a modeling agency where Mrs. Trump worked in Milan being 'something like a gentleman's club,' and an article published by Suzy, a Slovenian magazine, alleged that Mrs. Trump's modeling agency in New York, run by Paolo Zampolli, 'operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients.'

The article, which was also published online by the Mailonline/ website under the headline 'Naked photoshoots, and troubling questions about visas that won't go away: The VERY racy past of Donald Trump's Slovenian wife' did not intend to state or suggest that these allegations are true, nor did it intend to state or suggest that Mrs. Trump ever worked as an 'escort' or in the 'sex business.'

To the contrary, The Daily Mail newspaper article stated that there was no support for the allegations, and it provided adamant denials from Mrs. Trump's spokesperson and from Mr. Zampolli.

The point of the article was that these allegations could impact the U.S. presidential election even if they are untrue.

Mrs. Trump's counsel in the U.S. and the U.K., have stated unequivocally that the allegations about the modeling agencies are false.

To the extent that anything in the Daily Mail's article was interpreted as stating or suggesting that Mrs. Trump worked as an 'escort' or in the 'sex business,' that she had a 'composite or presentation card for the sex business,' or that either of the modeling agencies referenced in the article were engaged in these businesses, it is hereby retracted, and the Daily Mail newspaper regrets any such misinterpretation.

The Daily Mail newspaper and MailOnline/ have entirely separate editors and journalistic teams.

In so far as MailOnline/ published the same article it wholeheartedly also retracts the above and also regrets any such misinterpretation.

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