UK's Daily Mail to pay Melania Trump damages and issue apology over modelling claims

US First Lady Melania Trump
PHOTO: Reuters

LONDON - Britain's Daily Mail agreed on Wednesday to pay Melania Trump an undisclosed sum and issue an apology after it published an article saying the U.S. First Lady had offered "services beyond simply modelling" in her former job.

President Donald Trump's wife, 46, had sued the publisher of the Daily Mail in Britain and also filed a $150 million (S$210 million) lawsuit against it in New York, claiming the article had cost her millions of dollars in potential business.

A person familiar with the situation said the settlement was worth less than $3 million, including legal costs and damages.

The Daily Mail, which runs what it calls the world's largest English-language newspaper website, apologised for the article on Wednesday and issued a retraction on its home page.

"An article on 20th August 2016 about Melania Trump... questioned the nature of her work as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling," publisher Associated Newspapers said.

"We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them .... we have agreed to pay her damages and costs."

At the High Court in London, Trump's lawyer said the article, headlined "Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife's past that could derail Trump", was published as a two-page spread and accompanied by an old photo of Melania Trump standing naked with her front against a wall but looking back at the camera.

"Readers of the newspaper that day could not fail to miss the article", John Kelly told the court.

"The article included false and defamatory claims about the claimant which questioned the nature of her work as a professional model. "The suggestion that such allegations even merit investigation is deeply offensive and has caused a great deal of upset and distress to the claimant," he said.

Melania Trump: Style icon in the making

  • When Mrs Melania Trump appeared at the Republican National Convention in July, Vanity Fair magazine compared her with Kate Middleton, the British royal who is a global style icon.
  • Mrs Trump, 46, was wearing a stunning white dress with puff sleeves that night, hours before her husband Donald Trump claimed the Republican nomination for president.
  • Her outfit by Serbian-born and British-based Roksanda Ilincic quickly sold out after she wore it, a sign that the former model from Slovenia turned First Lady-to-be may well be on her way to becoming a fashion trendsetter.
  • Her choices might also stir some debate, as questions then were asked as to why she did not choose a dress by an American designer.
  • She also aroused talk when she wore a fuchsia pink pussy-bow shirt to the second television presidential debate and a black pussy- bow Ralph Lauren creation to the next one.
  • People thought her picks were intentional, coming just after her husband was revealed to have talked about grabbing women "by the p***y" in a leaked recording from 2005. But a Trump campaign spokesman denied it was intentional.
  • Fast forward to election day last Tuesday. She appeared, displaying a style she has been most noted for - by balancing a long coat on her shoulders that barely covers her white shift dress.
  • The Telegraph's fashion editor Victoria Moss wrote: "Her efforts here are accomplished. On stage in Iowa, after introducing her husband as 'the best master negotiator', she stepped back from the lectern, flicked that perfect blow-dry delicately over her shoulder, and all without her bright red coat budging an inch. That's not just rigid tailoring and a sturdy shoulder-pad; that's professional."
  • Monochrome outfits. Shoulder robing. Pussy bows. All very safe - and boring?
  • Do these form the signature style of the next queen of the White House? Given her fashion background, she will keep everyone watching in the years to come.