A charity boss has challenged Naomi Campbell's claim she did not know the alleged 'blood diamonds' she accepted in 1997 were from former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
Jeremy Ratcliffe, former chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, told a South African court on Wednesday (15Jun11) that the supermodel had informed him she was given the illicit gems - which are used to fund conflicts - by the "African leader who sat next to her" at a dinner party thrown by Nelson Mandela. Taylor was the only African leader present.
In a statement read aloud to a court in Alexandra, Johannesburg, Ratcliffe declared, "Naomi Campbell told us that late on the night of September 25, two people whose names she did not know came to her room and handed her three diamonds as a present from the African leader who had sat next to her at the dinner party.
"She appeared to be at a loss as to what to do with them. She suggested that they could possibly be given to the fund. I told her that I did not want to involve the fund in anything that could possibly be of dubious origin, or even illegal.
"Reluctantly, I offered to keep the stones for her and to see what could be done with them. I thought there would be no harm in simply leaving them where they were (in a safe in his home) until Naomi either asked for them back, which seemed unlikely, or life presented an opportunity where I could have used them for the good of the fund."
Last August (10), Campbell testified at The Hague, Netherlands as part of Taylor's ongoing war crimes trial to face allegations she accepted the diamonds.