Supermodel's diamonds evidence meant to be 'low-key': PR

11th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

One of Naomi Campbell's public relations team said Wednesday that her appearance at Liberian ex-leader Charles Taylor's war crimes trial aimed to be as "low-key, respectful and unfussy" as possible.

Neil Wallis of The Outside Organisation said most journalists who covered the supermodel's testimony last Thursday at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone thought "she had come across well, as honest and persuasive".

Writing in PR Week, a trade journal for the public relations industry, Wallis said "planning began long ago" for her appearance, with the strategy drawn up in consultation with Campbell herself.

"We wanted it to be as low-key, respectful and unfussy an event as possible," Wallis wrote.

Campbell had answered questions "honestly and clearly" and "her understandable nervousness only made her slip once," he said.

"As Ms Campbell flew away with her boyfriend in his private jet and the legal team headed back to London, we worked long into the afternoon outside the court dealing with newspaper reporters and TV correspondents," he added.

"The value of that hard work was reflected in the majority of the media coverage on Friday morning -- it was dominated by broadly neutral court reporting, which to the PR is a positive.

"The big PR winner? The UN's Special War Crimes Tribunal for Sierra Leone."

This alluded to the unprecedented media attention given to the trial, where Taylor stands accused of arming rebels in Sierra Leone in return for so-called blood diamonds.

Campbell faced questions over whether she received diamonds from Taylor.

The British supermodel told the court it was a "big inconvenience" to have to give evidence, adding: "I really didn't want to be here."

She said she had received a pouch containing "dirty-looking stones" which she assumed had come from Taylor after a dinner in South Africa in 1997 which they had both attended.

On Monday, Campbell's former agent, Carole White, and actress Mia Farrow, who were at the same event, challenged her testimony, saying she knew the gems were from Taylor.

Campbell said in a statement issued Tuesday that she had helped the court as much as she could, adding that she cared deeply about charity work in Africa.

"I've no motive here. Nothing to gain. I am a black woman who has and will always support good causes especially relating to Africa," she said.

She also accepted that it was a "poor choice of word" to describe her appearance at the court as "an inconvenience".

© 2010 AFP

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