Daily Mail retracts Melania Trump story after lawsuit filed

FILE - This is a Thursday, April 21, 2016 file photo of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump, appear on the NBC "Today" television program, in New York . The Daily Mail newspaper Friday Sept. 2, 2016 has retracted a story about Melania Trump after her lawyers filed a lawsuit in the United States accusing the newspaper and a Maryland blogger of publishing false statements about her alleged involvement with an escort agency. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
FILE _ This is a April 4, 2016, file photo, of Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as she addresses the crowd during a rally at the Milwaukee Theatre in Milwaukee. The Daily Mail newspaper Friday Sept. 2, 2016 has retracted a story about Melania Trump after her lawyers filed a lawsuit in the United States accusing the newspaper and a Maryland blogger of publishing false statements about her alleged involvement with an escort agency. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

LONDON — The Daily Mail newspaper and its website retracted a story about Melania Trump on Friday after she filed a lawsuit accusing the Daily Mail Online and a Maryland blogger of falsely accusing her of involvement with an escort agency during her modeling career.

The retraction, published on page 14 of the Daily Mail tabloid and on its popular website, said the newspaper regrets any "misinterpretation" of the Aug. 20 article. It said the story wasn't intended to suggest that Melania Trump had been involved in escort work, but rather to raise questions about whether allegations about her past could hurt her husband's campaign for the White House.

"Among other things, the article noted that allegations have been made in a book available on Amazon about a modeling agency where Mrs. Trump worked in Milan being 'something like a gentleman's club,' and an article published by Suzy, a Slovenian magazine, alleged that Mrs. Trump's modeling agency in New York, run by Paolo Zampolli, 'operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients,'" the newspaper said.

The newspaper said it "did not intend" to suggest she had worked as an escort or been involved in the sex business.

"To the contrary, The Daily Mail newspaper article stated that there was no support for the allegations, and it provided adamant denials from Mrs. Trump's spokesperson and from Mr. Zampolli," it said.

In Slovenia, Natasa Pirc Musar, the owner of the law firm Pirc Musar, told The Associated Press that Melania Trump has sued the tabloid magazine Suzy over the disputed story because it published "completely untrue" claims about her.

"Our client will not allow (herself) to be publicly humiliated, described as a woman who became a top model, not due to hard work but by offering escort services," Pirc Musar said.

Slovenske Novice newspaper, which publishes Suzy magazine once a week, said on its website that it "never claimed that Melania Trump offered services of sexual escort."

Melania Trump is a former model who has actively supported her husband's candidacy and spoke on his behalf at the Republican convention.

Her U.S. lawyer filed the lawsuit Thursday in state court in Montgomery County, Maryland, home of Webster Tarpley, who publishes the Tarpley.net blog. It seeks a minimum of $75,000 from each defendant.

The lawyer, Charles Harder, represented Hulk Hogan in his successful defamation suit against the now-defunct website Gawker.

He didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the Daily Mail retraction.

___

Associated Press writer Ali Zerdin in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Kasey Jones in Baltimore contributed.

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