FEBRUARY 11, 2002
A little embarrassment for Renault
THE feeling in Formula 1 circles is that one's private life is one's own business and it only becomes an issue if it impacts on the sport. Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore will not be enjoying the proceedings going on this week in the High Court in London where his ex-girlfriend Naomi Campbell is seeking damages from the Daily Mirror newspaper over photographs of Campbell leaving a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous in January last year.
Campbell, who broke up with Briatore in August, argues that the publication of information about her private life was an invasion of privacy although her counsel admitted that she had a drug problem and that she also attended meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Lawyers for the Daily Mirror pulled no punches saying that "the issue is whether celebrities like Miss Campbell are entitled to select what information - or more significantly in this case, misinformation - they release to the public, and then go to court seeking damages when the truth is told."
The lawyers claimed that in addition to using illegal drugs she also deceived the public by making public statements boasting that she had avoided drugs and that this deprived her of the right to complain about the newspaper revealing the truth.
There is no suggestion at all that Briatore was in any way involved or even aware of his girlfriend's activities but this will not detract from the fact that it is embarrassing that this story is being dragged through the courts and the newspapers. It is not the first time that Campbell's adventures have been an embarrassment to Briatore. In February 2000 Campbell pleaded guilty in a Canadian court to assaulting a former assistant and in November last year she accused Briatore of hitting her when they broke up in August.
Briatore denied the stories.
With Renault rumored to be edging Briatore out of the picture, such stories will do him no good at all.
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