Newspaper The Daily Mail has landed in hot water after publishing a story about Melania Trump apparently working as an escort before she met current husband, presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
The story alleged that Melania may have worked part-time in the sex industry in New York, and seems to have originated from a US blogger. Her lawyer Charles Harder stated that the claims were “outright lying”, and as a result Melania is set to sue both the blogger and The Daily Mail for a whopping $150 million (£114 million). Both the blogger and The Daily Mail have since retracted the story.
Harder said in a statement “These defendants made several statements about Mrs Trump that are 100% false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation. Defendants’ actions are so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs Trump that her damages are estimated at $150m.”
The complaint has been filed before the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in Maryland, though rather confusingly it seems Mrs. Trump has her sights set on a much smaller payoff than her lawyer mentioned; the document states that she is looking for “an amount in excess of Seventy Five Thousand Dollars ($75,000) in compensatory and punitive damages”.
However, experts have stated that she will have a very slim chance of winning in the defamation case in the US. In order to do so she would need to prove that the newspaper acted maliciously, i.e. they were aware that the story was false before going to print, which obviously would be a pretty mean feat given that they had sources for the article. She would probably be better off bringing such a case to the UK, where she would only need to prove that the story had caused her reputation serious harm, though the resulting payout would be much less.
Meanwhile, The Daily Mail have published a statement about the retraction of the article, suggesting it has simply been minsiterpreted.
“The article, which was also published online by the Mailonline/DailyMail.com website under the headline ‘Naked photoshoots, and troubling questions about visas that won’t go away: The VERY racy past of Donald Trump’s Slovenian wife’ did not intend to state or suggest that these allegations are true, nor did it intend to state or suggest that Mrs. Trump ever worked as an ‘escort’ or in the ‘sex business.’
To the contrary, The Daily Mail newspaper article stated that there was no support for the allegations, and it provided adamant denials from Mrs. Trump’s spokesperson and from Mr. Zampolli.”