Supermodel Naomi Campbell has accused the Mail on Sunday of a “character assassination” over its article claiming she has “rubbed shoulders” with “a hair-raising cast of characters”.
The Mail said Campbell partied with Jeffrey Epstein in 2001 and had flown in his private jet. It also shared pictures of her with Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Mike Tyson and Liberian war criminal Charles Taylor.
Epstein took his own life earlier this month, aged 66, while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking underage girls. Campbell has said she was not aware of his illegal activities and was “sickened” on hearing of them.
Weinstein and Spacey both deny allegations of sexual assault. Tyson was sentenced to six years in jail after being convicted of rape in 1992.
The newspaper’s article followed news that the British Fashion Council will award the London-born model for her philanthropic work with charities. The paper said Campbell had been “unexpectedly honoured”.
It wrote: “For all the glamour of her jet-setting social circle, she has also rubbed shoulders with another, altogether less wholesome crowd – a hair-raising cast of characters, in fact, with dubious and in some cases bloodthirsty reputations.”
In a video responding to the article (see below), published on her official Youtube account, Campbell answered questions from a sympathetic and anonymous off-camera interviewer.
The 49-year-old described the Mail on Sunday’s article, which was published on 18 August, as “distorted” and said she was “shocked” that she had not been given a right of reply.
She said: “It’s a distorted piece of journalism, and I do love great journalism, but this is a direct character assassination, and it belongs in, like, an Orwell book.”
Campbell said she had met Epstein on her 31st birthday, having been introduced by ex-boyfriend Flavio Briatore, but told her interviewer she did not suspect “what he was doing”.
The model said of Epstein: “What he’s done is indefensible, and when I heard of what he’d done, it sickened me to my stomach just like everybody else…”
She added: “Right now I stand with the victims, they’re scarred for life.”
She also said she had “rubbed shoulders with hundreds of thousands of people” during her career and found it “extraordinary that of all the hundreds of thousands of people that I’ve stood next to to take a picture at a public event” the Mail had “only chosen these few” for its article.
Campbell was later asked by her interviewer if the Mail’s story had made her “think differently about the state of journalism today” and if she thought this “one-sided way of reporting could be considered sinister?”
“Yes I do,” she replied. “I’ve met some great journalists and writers and done some great interviews over the years.
“For anyone who saw me do Newsnight with Emily [Maitlis], they were tough questions and I don’t mind being asked tough and strong questions. What Emily did was stand-up journalism.
“That’s an example for me of a stand-up journalist – straight-forward, tough questions and I was happy to answer them. I cannot put this in the same boat and say this is journalism, especially as I was not given a chance to respond. It’s not what I would have expected.”
She went on: “Let’s call it for what it is, this is a character assassination and we can all read between the lines and know why they keep coming at me but I will not lay down and let that happen.”
The Mail on Sunday has yet to comment.