Naomi Campbell is a silly, vain woman. She has retained her great beauty at forty, but her brain seems to have matured at the same rate as her skin. She is frozen in perpetual teenage self-absorbtion. How else to explain her "this is so inconvenient" remark at The Hague, then fleeing the court ordeal to go jet-setting.
But lest we forget, Naomi is no war criminal. She has as much substance as a meringue and the sensitivity of grade four sandpaper. But her short comings do not include acts of mass murder and mutilation.
We need to remind ourselves of this because the coverage of Campbell's appearance at the Charles Taylor war crimes trial this week suggests that it is the supermodel, not the warlord, who is the real baddie. Sensible newspapers have devoted spreads questioning the veracity of her testimony. Instead of speculating about whether Taylor will be convicted, we lick our lips at the prospect of Naomi being charged with perjury or worse.
But what exactly did she do wrong back in 1997? She has admitted receiving the diamonds and, quite properly, handing them over to the Nelson Mandela Children's charity. Everybody who testified accepts that. There is no suggestion from anyone that she asked for the diamonds or personally gained from them. The only inconsistancy is whether she knew they were from Taylor. But what if she did? As a 27 year old model, perhaps even more daft than she is now, she could hardly be expected to know that the then recently elected President of Libera was Africa's answer to Pol Pot (she had almost certainly never heard of Pol Pot). And as any psychiatrist will tell you, psychopaths are often superficially charming. At the time, the extent of Taylor's crimes was not widely publicised - though anyone who followed the events in West Africa should have given him a wide berth. Still, the UN declaration on conflict diamonds and the Kimberly agreement to outlaw them were several years away. The movie Blood Diamond would not be made for another 12 years and Kanye West, who wrote the anthemic Diamonds are from Sierra Leone, was just another college drop out trying to get a break..
Campbell was probably the youngest and least well educated of the guests at the party given by Nelson Mandela. Why, in her eyes, would her saintly host endorse a war criminal? Why would the self-celebrated humanitarian Mia Farrow or the legendary music producer Quincy Jones break bread with Taylor? If Mandela, Jones and Farrow were comfortable in the man's company, why is all the opprobrium heaped on the young model?
Because she flirted with him, the hussy! Most men meeting the world's most famous black model would have chanced their arm with a bit of mild flirtation. A middle aged meglomaniac like Taylor was guaranteed to try it on. No doubt she was well used to such behaviour and responded with some harmless coquettish remarks. What else was she to do? Embark on a Leninist analysis of The Scramble for Africa?
It is a sad reflection of our celebrity obsessed culture that we find it easier to pillory Naomi than Taylor, and the diamond companies who profited from his activites until human rights campaigners forced them to abide by agreements on the origins of the stones. Amnesty is campaigning for all the corporations who profitted from blood diamonds to face justice.
But the fact is we don't really care about Taylor, his corporate customers, and the millions of lives he ruined. Unlike Naomi, it's just not that sexy.