Naomi Campbell told an international tribunal that she received a gift of " small dirty looking stones" that turned out to be diamonds from men she believed to be representatives of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, who is now on trial for war crimes at The Hague. She had previously told ABC News that she never received a diamond from Taylor.
Campbell said she gave the stones to the former director of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, Jeremy Ractliffe.
"I just said take them, do something with them, make sure some children benefit from them," she told chief prosecutor Brenda Hollis today in court.
Campbell said that Ractliffe told her he did not have time to sell the stones, and that he still has them.
According to Campbell, two men came to her room at Nelson Mandela's residence in the middle of the night after a dinner at which she'd met Charles Taylor for the first time. She says the men woke her up, said "A gift for you," and handed her a pouch with several "dirty-looking" stones inside with no note or explanation.
She denied that she had been flirtatious with Taylor at dinner or had been seated next to him, or that he had told her he planned to give her a gift of diamonds. She said she had not been in contact with him since the dinner.
Campbell was subpoenaed by the international tribunal following an ABC News report about allegations that Taylor had given her uncut "blood diamonds" on a trip to South Africa.
Campbell reluctantly appeared at the The Hague Thursday to give her version of events the night she met Taylor at the home of Nelson Mandela in 1997. She arrived at court under police protection, and said during testimony that appearing was an "inconvenience" for her because she feared for the safety of her family.
Until the ABC News report, Campbell had refused to cooperate with the Special Court for Sierra Leone where Taylor is standing trial. Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Campbell testified Thursday that she had never heard of Taylor, Liberia or blood diamonds when she met the Liberian president in 1997.
The London-born beauty took center stage at the trial in January when prosecutors introduced evidence that Taylor had given her a rough-cut diamond in the middle of the night, following a dinner at Mandela's home.
Lawyers for the Special Court allege that Taylor's gift came from a stash of uncut diamonds the former Liberian warlord used to buy weapons to fund rebel groups and foment violence in the neighboring West African country of Sierra Leone.
The prosecution first learned of the alleged gift of "blood diamonds" from actress Mia Farrow, who had accompanied Campbell on the 1997 trip and was a guest at the Mandela home the night the diamonds were purportedly offered. After an ABC News report on the alleged gift, Campbell's former agent Carole White came forward and told prosecutors that she was also at the dinner, and was with Campbell later that evening when a group of Taylor's men delivered a half-dozen uncut diamonds.