Charles Taylor trial: Celebrity witness evidence

An alleged gift from Liberia's former President Charles Taylor to the model Naomi Campbell has become a key issue in his war crimes trial.

The court has been told that Ms Campbell was given uncut stones after a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1997.

But the court has heard conflicting evidence from Ms Campbell, her former agent Carole White and the actress Mia Farrow about the gift and its origin.

Linking Mr Taylor to illegal, "blood diamonds" is key to the prosecution's case as it claims he used them to fund rebels in Sierra Leone's civil war.

Witness evidence on "diamonds" gift

When did you first hear about the diamonds?

Naomi Campbell

"When I was sleeping I had a knock on my door. I opened my door and two men were there and gave me a pouch and said: 'A gift for you'. I opened the pouch the next morning when I woke up... I saw a few stones in there, they were very small dirty-looking stones."

Mia Farrow

"Naomi Campbell joined us at the breakfast table, but before she sat down, she immediately recounted an event of that evening. She said in the night she had been awakened by some men who were knocking at her door and that they had been sent to her by Charles Taylor and they had given her a huge diamond."

Carole White

"Whilst we were eating dinner, Naomi leant back and Charles Taylor leant forward and Naomi was very excited and told me, 'Oh he's going to give me some diamonds'.

"After dinner we went back to the guest house. Naomi was very excited about the diamonds that were meant to be arriving. She was in communication with some men, including I believe the driver who was due to be bringing the diamonds.

"We both went to bed. I heard some pebbles hit my window. I looked down and two guys were there. They said: 'We have something for Miss Campbell - can you let us in?' I woke Miss Campbell. We went downstairs and let the men in. She really wanted to let them in.

"They took out a scruffy paper and handed it Miss Campbell and said: 'These are the diamonds'. She opened them and showed them to me."

How many stones were there?

Naomi Campbell

"I really can't recall after 13 years, Maybe two or three?"

Mia Farrow

"Naomi Campbell said 'diamond' - singular. That's what she said.

"I know she didn't say 'a few' and certainly not 'stones'.

"I didn't see the diamond or diamonds."

Carole White

"Five or six."

Did Naomi Campbell know the stones were diamonds?

Naomi Campbell

"If someone hadn't said they were diamonds I wouldn't have guessed right away that they were. When I'm used to seeing diamonds I'm used to seeing them shiny in a box."

Mia Farrow

"She may not have used the word 'huge' but she did say a diamond."

Carole White

"After the men had gone we both discussed the diamonds... She [Naomi] was quite disappointed because they were not shiny... They weren't very big."

Who suggested the stones were from Charles Taylor?

Naomi Campbell

"At breakfast I told Miss Farrow and Miss White what had happened and one of the two said, well that's obviously Charles Taylor, and I said, yes I guess it was.

"I think it was Mia Farrow who said there was no-one else at the table that would give such a gift. So the assumption was made.

"I don't know anything about Charles Taylor. Never heard of him before, never heard of the country Liberia before. I never heard of the term 'blood diamonds' before. So I just assumed that it was (him)."

Mia Farrow

"Naomi Campbell said they came from Charles Taylor."

Carole White

"Naomi told me at dinner. Charles Taylor was smiling and nodding in agreement. He was agreeing there was something, a gift coming of diamonds."

What happened to the stones?

Naomi Campbell

"I wanted to find my friend [Jeremy Ractliffe, then head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund], someone that I trust and who does great things in South Africa for charity, to give them [the stones] to him to do something with them. I didn't want to keep them."

Mia Farrow

"She [Naomi Campbell] said that she intended to give the diamond to Nelson Mandela's children's charity."

Carole White

"I was worried about the gift because I knew that if we took them out of South Africa it would be me who would have to carry them. I recall telling Naomi the next morning that we shouldn't take these diamonds, we should give them to the children's charity. She eventually agreed.

"On the Blue Train we went to visit Jeremy Ractliffe in his carriage. Naomi told him the story and reluctantly he took the diamonds. He looked very uncomfortable."

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