Tears of the Marquesa; after All I've Done for Hello! They Go and Stab Me in the Back

Article excerpt

Byline: BILL MOULAND

SHE has always been regarded as the doyenne of the celebrity circuit - the woman who fixes interviews with royalty, film stars, pop singers, It girls and footballers for her bosses at Hello! magazine.

But yesterday the Marquesa de Varela left a court in tears, claiming to be the victim of the bitter legal battle being waged between Hello! and its rival OK! over the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

'After all I have done for Hello!, and they stab me in the back,' she wept behind her sunglasses.

The Marquesa, who has homes in London and Spain and a 1,000-acre farm in her native Uruguay, claims she was used 'like a doormat' and 'an all-terrain vehicle' to try to rescue Hello! after it published 'spoiler' photographs of the pound sterling1.2million wedding taken by paparazzi photographer Rupert Thorpe.

She says the magazine, which had been beaten to a pound sterling1million picture deal by OK!, made her sign a statement to the Court of Appeal saying that she commissioned the shots for Hello!, even though she had had nothing to do with it.

Her letter was part of a successful effort to get an injunction lifted so that the magazine could go on sale.

She later allowed pound sterling150,000 worth of photographic invoices to be paid through her company to the fourstrong team of paparazzi.

Towards the end of a five-and-ahalfhour ordeal in the High Court witness box - an epic compared with the time that Mr Douglas and Miss Zeta-Jones spent there on Monday - she broke down in tears. Hello's counsel James Price QC had variously described her as 'volatile and eccentric,' 'impetuous' and 'a law unto herself'.

Asked how she felt at such a description, she said: 'It was very hard actually Mr Price and you should not have said that, and I tell you why. I have other working opportunities and it is not helpful for me for you to say that.' As the QC tried to apologise, she burst into tears and said: 'My mother is sick and you say I'm eccentric. Why?

I found it very hurtful, Mr Price.' As he tried to say sorry again, she continued: 'You have put me in this terrible position. It's disgusting. I am just working to keep my family. It's disgusting, disgusting.' The twice-married Marquesa, who owes her title to her second husband, from whom she is now divorced, had previously told the court that she agreed to do Hello's bidding because she relied on income from the magazine to support her three children, six grandchildren, elderly mother and almost 200 rescued dogs. …