Naomi Campbell has won her defamation action against The Daily Telegraph newspaper. The Telegraph had alleged in articles in November 2012 that Ms Campbell planned to organise an elephant polo tournament for her partner’s birthday celebrations in India and was therefore promoting animal cruelty. However, there were never any such plans – Ms Campbell had neither organised nor requested the organisation of any elephant polo tournament.
The Telegraph had reported that Ms Campbell was planning to organise an elephant polo match for her partner’s 50th birthday celebrations in Jodhpur, India. It then went on to report detailed criticisms made of these plans by the animal rights group PETA, who were said to have launched a personal attack on Ms Campbell for promoting animal cruelty. Readers were told that elephant polo was cruel and depended upon the “violent abuse” of the animals by the mahouts who trained them, and that they were “constantly kept in chains” and “driven insane” by their treatment.
A Statement in Open Court [pdf] was read today before Mr Justice Eady in the High Court. Ms Campbell’s solicitor, Simkins partner Gideon Benaim told the judge that
“any suggestion that the Claimant was promoting animal cruelty or was knowingly or recklessly indifferent to the violent abuse or other physical or mental suffering caused to elephants as a result of their training or transportation for elephant polo is wholly unfounded. The Defendant is here today by its solicitor to withdraw such imputations unreservedly and to apologise publicly to Ms Campbell for the damage and distress caused by its article, for its failure to put the story to her in advance and for its failure to offer a prompt apology and correction subsequently”.
The Telegraph agreed to pay Ms Campbell substantial damages as well as her legal costs.
Commenting on the outcome, Ms Campbell said:
“There were never plans to hold an elephant polo tournament, so the allegations should not have been published. However, I am glad that the matter has been resolved and I accept the newspaper’s apology”.