The Daily Mail has agreed to pay millions in damages and costs to US First Lady Melania Trump over a story alleging she had a ‘racy past’.
The story also included claims she met her husband, US President Donald Trump, three years before they “staged” a first encounter.
An apology and a full retraction has been published by Mail Online and will also appear in the print edition. Trump’s denials were included in the original story and an earlier retraction was published in September.
Press Gazette understands that damages and costs come under $3m (£2.4m) and largely comprise legal fees. The settlement brings a stop to legal proceedings both in the UK and internationally.
Trump filed a libel lawsuit against the Daily Mail in New York – where the publisher has offices – in February, after it was dismissed by a Maryland court, seeking £121m in damages.
The original piece was a Daily Mail story which also appeared on Mail Online and the title’s US-facing website DailyMail.com.
It repeated allegations about what the Daily Mail described as Mrs Trump’s “racy past” contained in a book.
In its earlier retraction the 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.’
“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.”
The Daily Mail said in a fresh statement today: “In September 2016, Melania Trump sued the Daily Mail newspaper in the United Kingdom and Mail Online in the United States.
“The legal actions concerned allegations published in late August 2016 questioning the nature of work undertaken by Mrs. Trump in the 1990s when she worked as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modeling.
“The article included statements that Mrs. Trump denied the allegations and Paulo Zampolli, who ran the modelling agency, also denied the allegations, and the article also stated that there was no evidence to support the allegations.
“The article also claimed that Mr. and Mrs. Trump may have met three years before they actually met, and ‘staged’ their actual meeting as a ‘ruse’.
“Daily Mail and Mail Online have retracted the above statements complained of by Mrs. Trump. Daily Mail and Mail Online have agreed to print the Retraction and Apology in the Daily Mail newspaper, at DailyMail.com and at DailyMail.co.uk. Daily Mail and Mail Online also have agreed to pay damages and costs to Melania Trump.”
The apology reads: “The Daily Mail newspaper and the Mail Online/DailyMail.com website published an article on 20th August 2016 about Melania Trump which questioned the nature of her work as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling.
“The article included statements that Mrs. Trump denied the allegations and Paulo Zampolli, who ran the modelling agency, also denied the allegations, and the article also stated that there was no evidence to support the allegations. The article also claimed that Mr and Mrs Trump may have met three years before they actually met, and “staged” their actual meeting as a “ruse.”
“We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them. We apologise to Mrs Trump for any distress that our publication caused her. To settle Mrs Trump’s two lawsuits against us, we have agreed to pay her damages and costs.”