Supermodel tussled with a young PR who 'got too close'
Her reputation has been tarnished by a series of violent tantrums, often involving her staff and mobile phones.
Now supermodel Naomi Campbell has become embroiled in yet another altercation involving a mobile – this time with a public relations ‘minder’.
The latest incident, which follows Ms Campbell’s previous convictions for assault, is said to have left the £30,000-a-year graduate employed by global PR giant Bell Pottinger with a bruised face.
Ironically, the former public schoolboy had been employed by the company to improve the model’s public image.
The blue-chip firm was founded by Lady Thatcher’s spin doctor, Lord Bell, who once described Ms Campbell as ‘the most unpleasant fashion model in the world’.
Ms Campbell, 46, and her alleged victim worked closely together in London late last year.
But things turned sour when he turned up at her apartment in a five-star New York hotel shortly before Christmas, while the model was recovering from a foot operation. At the time, she needed crutches and a wheelchair to get around.
She suspected the publicist of tipping off the paparazzi about her movements, and the pair are said to have grappled furiously as she wrested the phone away from him as he sent a text. But it is not suggested that her suspicions were justified and accounts of what led up to – and followed – the incident differ markedly.
Sources close to Ms Campbell suggested that the man, who is 20 years the model’s junior, was a ‘fantasist’ who turned up unannounced at the apartment in midtown Manhattan. But friends of the publicist robustly deny this, saying the pair had, in fact, formed a close bond.
Insiders at Bell Pottinger yesterday indicated that the young consultant may have got ‘too close’ to their client. They say he had been taken off Ms Campbell’s account before the altercation, and that he was on holiday when he visited the supermodel in Manhattan.
A source close to the London-born supermodel said: ‘At the time, Naomi had had an operation and was in a wheelchair or on crutches, and the photographers seemed to know where she’d be.
‘She wanted to get the phone off the PR man because he was texting in her presence and she grabbed it.’
Admitting there was a ‘struggle’, the source added: ‘There was no fight as such and she has absolutely no idea how he got a bruised face.’
He added that it ‘seems a bit far-fetched’ to suggest Ms Campbell inflicted the wound ‘given that she was immobile, had stitches and found it hard to move’.
‘He seemed to be a bit of a Walter Mitty character, a fantasist,’ the source added.
‘He was always boasting about his colourful background. He might well have been flirtatious. He started to get addicted to the lifestyle. His head got turned by the bright lights and celebrity and he became a bit delusional.’
But friends and colleagues of the young man tell a very different story, and say he had a photo of his injury.
However, the source close to Ms Campbell said: ‘She doesn’t recognise his account of events at all.
‘She does regret snatching the mobile phone because she was a bit paranoid about being followed by paparazzi, but she has no idea about him receiving any injuries.’
Ms Campbell was taken on as a client by Bell Pottinger late last year, and the young publicist was assigned to be her PR ‘minder’. They regularly spent late nights together at fashion events and parties.
It is believed that she was introduced to the firm by Polish-born, London-based socialite and lawyer Bianka Hellmich.
She is director of the charity Fashion For Relief, which Ms Campbell established to raise funds from catwalk shows for humanitarian causes.
Earlier this year, Ms Campbell dropped Bell Pottinger as her publicists and returned to PR guru Alan Edwards, the founder of the Outside Organisation. After the incident, friends say gossip about the altercation swept through the offices of Bell Pottinger, and the young publicist has not been seen recently.
Ms Campbell has a long history of assaults, with four court rulings against her – among several similar allegations.
The supermodel’s friend complained that she found it hard to shake that reputation, saying: ‘It is very difficult for anybody who’s ever done something in their life. People do always then jump to conclusions afterwards.
‘To be fair, she’s been great the last few years and her career’s been going really well.’
Lord Bell, who last month stood down as chairman of Bell Pottinger, has told how his company previously turned down the job of improving Ms Campbell’s image.
He recalled: ‘Someone asked me to take on Naomi Campbell, who wanted to be seen as nice. Her agent said, “Give me a position strategy.”
‘I said, “The most unpleasant fashion model in the world.” She said, “She’s that already.” I said, “What are you worrying about? It hasn’t stopped her making money and doing what she wants to do.” So I said to [the agent], “Tell her to be nicer and stop being nasty.” ’
Ms Campbell has dated a string of stars including Hollywood legend Robert De Niro, former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson and U2 bass guitarist Adam Clayton.
In the past she has been admitted struggling with addictions to cocaine and alcohol, and has a reputation for arriving sometimes hours late at photographic shoots.
Apart from her modelling work, Ms Campbell has diversified into acting and has released no fewer than 16 perfumes under her name since 1999.
Ms Campbell, Bell Pottinger and lawyers for the young publicist all declined to comment last night.