Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Kept Naomi's Blood Diamonds Secret, Says Mandela Charity Boss

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Kept Naomi's Blood Diamonds Secret, Says Mandela Charity Boss

Article excerpt

Byline: Alistair Foster

THE charity boss at the centre of the Naomi Campbell blood diamond storm today broke his silence and admitted he received "three small uncut" stones from the supermodel.

Jeremy Ratcliffe, former head of Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, today issued a statement after Campbell's testimony at the war crimes tribunal of former African leader Charles Taylor.

During the trial at The Hague yesterday, Campbell, 40, admitted receiving diamonds she assumed were from Taylor. They were given during a stay in 1997 at Mr Mandela's presidential house, where the then South African leader was hosting a dinner at which several celebrities were present.

She testified that two men had knocked on her door late at night and then gave her a pouch with the stones inside, but then claimed she gave them to fellow guest Mr Ratcliffe straight away.

The jewels are crucial to the case as the prosecution is trying to link former Liberian leader Taylor to illegal blood diamonds that funded a civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Mr Ratcliffe appeared to corroborate her story today and said he would be happy to testify at The Hague -- something the prosecution has been pressing for. He said he had kept the diamonds a secret and had now handed them to the authorities.

Police in South Africa today confirmed that Mr Ratcliffe had handed them in and they were now being analysed for authenticity. Musa Zondi, of specialist police unit The Hawks, said: "We sent them to the Diamond Board to have them authenticated and then we will make a decision after that. …

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