Naomi Campbell says racist slur sparked air rage

LONDON Sat Jun 21, 2008 10:27am EDT

1 of 2. British supermodel Naomi Campbell (C) hides her face as she is escorted into Uxbridge Magistrates Court in west London, June 20, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways rejected claims of racism on Saturday after supermodel Naomi Campbell, who pleaded guilty to assault in a foul-mouthed "air rage" incident, said she was likened to a black "Golliwog" doll during the flight.

BA said it did not accept the accusation made by Campbell, who was convicted of assault on Friday and sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community work, that someone on the flight called her a "Golliwog supermodel".

"British Airways does not accept any allegations of racism," the airline said in a statement. "We are proud of our diversity.

"We have strict policies concerning dignity at work and have long-standing training programs on diversity and inclusion."

Campbell, 38, told Sky News in an interview that her flash of air rage, in which she assaulted two police officers, swore repeatedly and screamed abuse at the captain of the Los Angeles-bound BA flight, was partly prompted by racist comments.

"I was called a racial name on that flight and that was part of my reaction," she said. "I was called a 'Golliwog supermodel' -- I don't think that's really fair, do you?"

Asked who had used the term, which refers to a black rag doll from children's literature, Campbell said: "Someone on the flight, not the passenger."

During Campbell's court case, prosecutors said Campbell ordered the airline captain to find her missing luggage and became violent when police tried to escort her off the aircraft.

The model pleaded guilty to assaulting two police officers and to a public order offence. Neither she nor her lawyers mentioned racist comments during her court case.

As well as the community service sentence, Campbell was ordered to pay 200 pounds ($395) compensation to one of the police officers, 150 pounds to the captain and 2,300 pounds in fines.

In the Sky interview, Campbell apologized to London's Metropolitan Police force, but added: "As for British Airways, I just think they are disgusting."

Campbell is famous for her fiery temper and has been in trouble with the law before.

She spent five days mopping floors and cleaning toilets as part of a community service sentence in New York last year after throwing a mobile phone at her housekeeper during an argument over a pair of jeans. She was also ordered to attend anger management classes.

In a previous incident with a telephone in 1998, Campbell assaulted an assistant, Georgina Galanis.

The model agreed in 2000 to plead guilty to the assault in exchange for expressing remorse, paying Galanis an undisclosed amount of money and also attending anger management classes.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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