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Naomi Campbell is suing the Daily Telegraph for libel over an article claiming she organised an elephant polo tournament in India.A spokeswoman for Campbell emphatically denied that the model, who campaigns against animal cruelty, had planned an elephant polo tournament in Jodhpur as stated by the article on 3 November.
The article, headed “Elephant polo at Campbell’s party criticised”, said celebrity guests at a party thrown by Campbell for her partner, the Russian billionaire Vladimir Doronin, would play the controversial sport in three-a-side teams. The online version of the article has been removed from the Telegraph website.
A spokeswoman for Campbell described the claim as “completely untrue” and said lawyers in London had been instructed to take action.
Campbell formally filed her libel claim against Telegraph Media Group, the publisher of the Daily Telegraph, at the high court on London on 5 December. She has instructed the London law firm Michael Simkins over the article.
Gideon Benaim, a partner of Michael Simkins LLP, said: “We have issued legal proceedings on behalf of Ms Campbell against the Telegraph, who were the original publishers of these allegations. We are instructed to pursue this matter until it is satisfactorily resolved. The allegations caused damage to our client, apart from the widespread repetition of the allegations, there were also protests outside the venue, and Indian government departments who wrote to us.
“However, it seems to me that government authorities and animal welfare groups in India were simply reacting to the untrue claims that had been made. The simple truth is that there was no plan for elephant polo. Ms Campbell did not cancel it because it was never going to happen in the first place. We have as yet no idea where the false claims originated from, perhaps the Telegraph will let us know in due course.”
Telegraph Media Group declined to comment.
Campbell fought a marathon legal battle with the Daily Mirror stretching back to 2001, when she won a case for invasion of privacy, breach of confidence and breach of the Data Protection Act after the paper published an article and photographs of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.
The court of appeal later overturned that ruling. Then, in 2004, the House of Lords found by a majority of three to two that Campbell’s privacy was invaded by the Trinity Mirror-owned paper.
After taking the issue of recovery of success fees by lawyers to the European court of human rights, the Mirror won a unanimous ruling in 2011 that this represented a significant violation of freedom of expression in relation to the Campbell case.
The Daily Mirror was faced with a total bill for £850,000, of which £365,000 represented success fees – although the newspaper reached a settlement on costs for a total of £500,000.
The ECHR said the requirement to pay Campbell’s success fees was “disproportionate”.
However, the ECHR ruled by six votes to one that there was no breach of the Daily Mirror’s freedom of expression in the earlier UK court judgment that the paper had invaded Campbell’s privacy.
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This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk