Friday, June 20, 2008

Naomi Campbell faces jail over assault and foul-mouthed tirade

The supermodel Naomi Campbell was facing a possible jail term today after pleading guilty to kicking and spitting at police officers during an air rage incident aboard an aircraft waiting to take off from Heathrow airport.

A court heard that the 38-year-old screamed foul-mouthed abuse at the captain of a British Airways flight after being told one of her bags had gone missing during the luggage chaos at the newly-opened Terminal 5 in April.

Campbell ordered the captain to get off the plane and look for her suitcase, holding up the flight bound for Los Angeles for almost an hour. When cabin crew eventually called police to remove her she refused to get off the plane and accused them of targeting her because she was black.

The model pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting a police officer, one count of disorderly conduct likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress and using threatening, abusive words or behaviour to cabin crew during an appearance at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court in west London.

Before adjourning to consider its sentence, the court heard the details of the events at Heathrow. Campbell could be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to £5,000 for each count of assault.

Melanie Parrish, prosecuting, told the court that Campbell was a first class passenger on the BA flight on April 3 this year and cabin crew said initially she was very friendly and professional.

She said that Captain Miles Sutherland had been advised that not all the baggage had been loaded due to the teething problems at the new terminal.

The court heard he made a routine check with the passengers on board the flight telling passengers there may be a slight delay because of the baggage problems.

Miss Parrish said: "Miss Campbell, having heard this, approached the cabin crew and asked them to make inquiries about the state of her baggage.

"Regrettably it was confirmed one of her items was one of those not loaded. Having heard that Miss Campbell had been affected by the baggage difficulties, he took the unusual decision to come and speak with her and explain the situation and make his apologies."

The court was told Campbell became upset and demanded to know where her bag was and started using her mobile phone. Meanwhile the captain began to go through her options with her.

Miss Parrish said: "To say that this process was difficult would be something of an understatement. Miss Campbell made no attempt to listen to him and talked over him, stating: ’I don’t want to hear’."

The model was then heard to say on her phone: "They have lost my f****** bags, get me another flight, get the press, get me my lawyer."

The court heard Campbell continued to shout at Capt Sutherland, saying: "I can’t believe you have lost my f****** bag. Bring me my f****** bags now."

Miss Parrish said: "She instructed him to personally get off the aircraft and get her bag and show it to her. The captain explained this wasn’t going to happen. He repeatedly tried to take control of the situation and asked if he could get a word in."

The magistrates were told that when Capt Sutherland tried to explain her options, Campbell snapped: "How dare you tell me what my options are? You are not leaving until you find my f****** bags."

As the captain walked away Campbell shouted after him: "You are a racist, you wouldn’t be doing this if I was white."

The court was told a cabin services director and a BA special operative trained to deal with difficult situations were called to the aircraft but had little success.

Miss Parrish said: "Miss Campbell was clearly upset and explained to them the reason why this was so awful for her was that she was contracted to wear a particular Yves Saint Laurent outfit on a US chat show and it was in the bag that hadn’t been loaded."

She told the court that Campbell again began to shout and swear and was told that her language was unacceptable and there were families and children on board.

A spokeswoman for British Airways said today: "We take all cases of disruptive behaviour extremely seriously and take action where appropriate. We have banned people from travelling with us in the past and we reserve the right to ban passengers."

BA would not comment specifically on the Campbell case, but it is understood that the supermodel has been banned by the airline.


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