US First Lady Melania Trump has accepted an apology and damages from UK tabloid the Daily Mail, which last year “republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modeling” in the 1990s.
In a statement, the paper said it retracted the story, apologised for any distress, and agreed to pay unspecified damages and costs. The settlement is believed to be much smaller than the $300m in damages Mrs Trump had originally been seeking.
The article, published on August 20 article under the headline “Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife’s past that could derail Trump”, sparked a libel lawsuit in the US and the UK.
Although the Mail published a retraction two weeks later, the paper and its website Mail Online stopped short of offering a full apology for what Mrs Trump’s lawyer Charles Harder described as the “100 per cent false” rumours, which were originally carried in a Slovenian magazine.
From the joint statement issued by Mrs Trump and the Mail today:
In September 2016, Melania Trump sued the Daily Mail newspaper in the United Kingdom and Mail Online in the United States. The legal actions concerned allegations published in late August 2016 questioning the nature of work undertaken by Mrs. Trump in the 1990s when she worked as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modeling.
The article included statements that Mrs. Trump denied the allegations and Paulo Zampolli, who ran the modelling agency, also denied the allegations, and the article also stated that there was no evidence to support the allegations. The article also claimed that Mr. and Mrs. Trump may have met three years before they actually met, and “staged” their actual meeting as a “ruse”.
The Mail’s website has been aggressively targeting the US market in recent years. Mail Online now has offices in Los Angeles and New York with over 250 staff in the US and earlier this month launched its own TV show, which will be broadcast in 105 American markets.
The website has 29m monthly unique users in the UK, according to data from Comscore, but has over 220m global users, making it the world’s biggest English language news site.
But the US expansion has brought difficulties with regulators, with the Mail arguing that US-generated content should not fall under the remit of the UK press watchdog, IPSO.