Jeremy Harding · Charles Taylor's Trial
Mia Farrow is still a star turn. See her testimony at The Hague, where Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Farrow, Naomi Campbell and Campbell’s agent, Carole White, of Premier Model Management, were in South Africa in 1997 when, according to White and Farrow, Campbell was a knowing beneficiary of Taylor’s dodgy largesse.
Here’s how it looks, very roughly, if you dovetail the testimonies of White, Farrow and Campbell at the Special Court for Sierra Leone:
Scene I: Taylor takes a shine to Campbell at a gala evening, hosted by Mandela. In the small hours, he dispatches his aides to rummage through his suitcase for his stash of blood diamonds. ‘Look in my combat fatigues, under the Brooks Brothers shirts.’
Scene II: Later still, the aides knock on the door of Campbell’s room in her Pretoria guesthouse and present her with ‘a pouch’. Next morning when she comes to and opens the bag (she recalled this in court), it’s full of ‘very small, dirty-looking stones’. Yuck. ‘I’m used to seeing diamonds shiny in a box, that’s the kind of diamond I’m used to seeing.’
Scene III: Breakfast in Pretoria (bacon, boerewors, lamb chops, a cut of charismatic roadkill, eggs any style, hash browns, muesli for the dog). Mia Farrow’s children are falling to (‘my children and I were already eating breakfast’) and so is Carole White. Enter Campbell. ‘And before she even sat down’ (Farrow again) she blurts out that she’s just been given a ‘huge diamond’.
Chorus of Farrow children: Are you sure it isn’t just a bag of gravel?
Scene IV: Lights dim on the boerewors and children. Campbell, Farrow and White to front of stage.
Campbell (to the tune of ‘La La La Love Song’): Very small, dirty-looking stones.
Farrow (stage whisper through cupped hands): Huge diamond! Taylor!
White: That’s Charles Taylor, the suit you were bantering with last night.
Somebody looks bad here but it isn’t Taylor or Campbell. The prosecutor’s office are the ones with breakfast on their faces, having called two celebrities and a huffy modelling agent, in the hope of proving that Taylor travelled around with conflict gems in 1997, to barter against arms for rebel friends in Sierra Leone. But Campbell has said she wasn’t clear who sent the pouch, while White and Farrow’s insistence that they know she knew hasn’t held up.
So Campbell is neutralised and the defence have had a field day with the other two. White’s evidence is compromised, they say, because she’s in a legal battle over a contract with Campbell; they took her to bits in court yesterday. Farrow, for her part, is overinvested in her campaigning work for Africa. She’s said she’s ‘eager to see the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone see justice’ and Taylor’s a plausible bad guy, even if none of the charges against him concerns Liberia.
But so what? Farrow has got her teeth into the idea of redress – in Darfur especially – even if she has a narrow sense of the issues. Never mind that she couldn’t recall how old her children were in 1997 (was the oldest 17 or 27?) or that she thinks of Imran Khan, also at the gala dinner, as a ‘soccer’ player. Her key flaw as a prosecution witness was her galumphing parti pris.