Melania Trump gets damages from Daily Mail over ‘escort’ allegations
Melania Trump has been granted damages in a settlement with the Daily Mail.
The First Lady of the United States had taken legal action against the British newspaper over suggestions that she had been employed as an escort before being married to Mr Trump.
Following a hearing at the High Court in London, the Daily Mail agreed to retract the claims, which were made during Mr Trump’s Presidential campaign.
In a public retraction, the newspaper wrote: “The Mail Online website and the Daily Mail newspaper 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’.”
It continues: “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.”
The actual detail of the financial settlement was not specified.
One of the lawyers employed by Mrs Trump was previously employed by gay PayPal co-founder and Republican billionaire Peter Thiel.
Mr Thiel last year admitted secretly funding a multi-million dollar lawsuit that forced online news giant Gawker Media into bankruptcy, to “fight back” over coverage that referenced his sexuality.
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The businessman was openly gay at the time of Gawker’s articles about him, but believed his privacy had been “violated” by the outlet, beginning a decade-long spat with the publisher
Gawker was forced out of business after Mr Thiel funded a lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan, who was awarded massive damages over the site’s publication of a video of him having sex with a friend’s wife.
Mrs Trump’s lawsuits had accused Mail Online of publishing the article “for the purpose of gaining a tremendous economic benefit through the resulting increase in web traffic to its article, and the corresponding advertising revenue”.
It alleged: “As a result of Defendant’s publication of defamatory statements about Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s brand has lost significant value, and major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her have been lost and/or substantially impacted.”
The lawsuit claimed the economic impact of the story on Mrs Trump had run to “many millions of dollars”, suggesting that it had scuppered her a “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… to launch a broad-based commercial brand, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships”.
It added: “These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel, accessories, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance.”
Mrs Trump’s lawsuit also claimed the story “impugned her fitness to perform her duties as First Lady of the United States”.
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