Naomi confesses drug abuse

by NEIL SEARS, Daily Mail

Naomi Campbell made a series of dramatic courtroom confessions yesterday involving years of drug abuse, more than a decade of therapy, her notoriously bad temper - and repeated lies to the public.

And all in a case she has brought to win damages for breach of her privacy by a newspaper.

The supermodel quickly found there is little privacy to be had in the witness box of the High Court in London.

Her whole life story is being examined in court, peppered with famous names from Gianni Versace to Nelson Mandela to Robert De Niro to Madonna, with many others in between.

Miss Campbell, 31, of London, New York and Paris, is seeking damages against Mirror Group Newspapers for an article last year which revealed she was attending meetings of Narcotics Anonymous.

Headlined 'Naomi: I am a drug addict', it was illustrated with a photograph of her emerging from a therapy meeting in Chelsea.

Miss Campbell confessed to the court that she had indeed been an illegal drug addict, that she had attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings between one and three times a day for a year, and that she lied to the public about her involvement with drugs since 1997.

But despite her position as one of the most photographed and written-about women in the world, she claims that the article, although true, was a breach of confidence, an infringement of her privacy, and broke the Data Protection Act.

In grey trouser suit, white shirt and pink tie, Miss Campbell gave a written witness statement to the court which said: 'I have admitted using illegal drugs and some years ago I recognised that I had a problem. I knew that it was wrong and had damaged me and I decided to try and sort myself out.

'I attended Alcoholics Anonymous, although I never had a drink problem, and Narcotics Anonymous, because I believe it is my best chance of dealing with my addiction.

'Everyone is aware of the need for anonymity, I use my first name Naomi. And NA teaches us humility - we all take it in turns putting out the chairs and making tea for each other.'

Her involvement with NA changed for ever, she claimed, after the Mirror published its story.

'I was very distressed to read the article,' said Miss Campbell. 'I was outraged and upset.

'Of course it was distressing to be branded a drug addict, but what I found particularly unpleasant and intrusive was that the Mirror printed details of my treatment, and photographs of me outside one of the counselling sessions.

'I felt shocked, angry, betrayed and violated. For the first time in a long while I doubted myself and my resolve to go on.

'I consider that I should be able to seek treatment for my drugs problems without this being published.'

When cross-examined, she said she had been so upset by the intrusion that she had virtually deserted England. 'I haven't been living in England since then,' said Streatham-born Miss Campbell, her accent a subtle blend of South London and North America. 'I live in the U.S. right now because of this very reason.'

She said that while she had attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings in England every day before the story's publication, she had been to only four since, although there had been meetings in 'America, Australia, Japan, Italy, France, Hungary, Czechoslovakia ...'

Pressed as to how often she had been in the Britain over the last year she could only reply: 'Within the tax days, that's all' before hurriedly insisting that she had no wish to avoid paying her due to the Inland Revenue.

According to the Mirror, Miss Campbell forfeited any right to privacy over her abuse of illegal drugs, largely because she had regularly discussed her private life and numerous love affairs to promote her commercial ventures.

These included a rock album, a Naomi Campbell scent and the chain of Fashion cafes.

The supermodel fiercely denied that she had ever used her personal affairs to promote her business interests - but there were certainly confessions-a-plenty in the course of almost three hours in the witness box.

Desmond Browne QC, representing the Mirror, directly asked Miss Campbell - whom he described as 'the face that launched a thousand magazine covers' - if she had made a practice of abusing illegal drugs.

Softly, she replied: 'Yes.' Mr Browne: 'A criminal offence with heavy penalties including imprisonment.'

'Yes.' Mr Browne: 'As you might expect, that abuse of illegal drugs caused you medical problems.'

'Yes.' 'And it must surely have affected your behaviour.'

'Yes.' 'Would it be fair to say that your behaviour is notorious?'

Miss Campbell paused, blinking and thinking, before replying: 'Yes.'

Mr Browne: 'By which I mean you have a reputation for tantrums?'

After another long pause, she again replied: 'Yes.'

Mr Browne: 'We are agreed, are we not, that in 1997 you told the press untruthfully that you did not abuse drugs?'

'Yes.' But Miss Campbell would not concede that she had repeatedly revealed intimate details of her life in a desperate quest for publicity.

Was it not true, said Mr Campbell, that she had allowed herself to be filmed in the shower as part of a documentary followinga fashion show in memory-of her dead friend Gianni Versace and to raise funds for one of Nelson Mandela's charities?

'Yeah,' said Miss Campbell. 'But I had bikini bottoms on.'

And was it not true that she had posed nude with Madonna for the pop star's graphic picture book, Sex?

'I'm not ashamed of that. I don't think it was vulgar in any way, and I don't think there's anything wrong with talking about sex.'

Had she not frequently made references in interviews to therapy?

'I've been in therapy since I was 20,' said Miss Campbell. 'I'm still in therapy now. It's a very positive thing - I'm not ashamed of it.'

She did seem a little ashamed of the fact that she had once pleaded guilty in a Canadian court to hitting an assistant over the head with a phone, but she said 'anger management therapy' had since helped her.

And she was adamant that references in interviews to exboyfriends including film star Robert De Niro and Spanish dancer Joachim Cortes, and her latest beau, Italian industrialist Flavio Briatore, were not attempts to increase interest in her commercial ventures.

The case continues.