When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Chris Huhne's partner Carina Trimingham taking legal action against Daily Mail owner Associated Newspapers
3:40pm Tuesday 24th April 2012 in News
Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne's partner Carina Trimingham broke down at the High Court today as she described the Daily Mail's ''diabolical'' campaign against her.
The 44-year-old PR adviser asked for tissues and had to leave the witness box for 10 minutes on the second day of her privacy and harassment action against Associated Newspapers.
She is seeking damages and an injunction over 65 ''highly unpleasant and hurtful'' articles which have appeared since her affair with the former energy and climate change secretary became public in June 2010.
They referred to the ''life and very different loves of the PR girl in Doc Martens'', described her as a ''comedy lesbian from central casting'', and published an ''inherently private'' photo of her 2007 civil partnership ceremony to another woman.
Ms Trimingham was being cross-examined by Antony White QC, for Associated, which is contesting the case on the basis that there was an important public interest and it was entitled to report the story in full.
It says that Ms Trimingham, the Eastleigh MP's former press officer, was no ''shrinking violet'', but a seasoned political journalist who was open about her sexuality.
Ms Trimingham told Mr Justice Tugendhat in London that the tone and tenor of the newspaper's entire coverage was ''appalling''.
Its publication of the civil partnership ceremony photo had ''trashed'' a special day, and homophobic comments from readers were ''deeply upsetting''.
She said she knew her relationship with Mr Huhne and the break-up of his 26-year marriage would be reported, but did not anticipate being subjected to ''such a long-winded campaign of vilification and stereotyping and bullying''.
Equally, she knew her relationship history would be mentioned but did not know she would be ''bullied and hounded by the Mail for 20 months''.
''The Mail painted a picture of me for their readers of someone who was stern, sturdy, a big strapping girl, likening me to a rugby player, callous, calculating, Doc Marten-wearing - all the sort of most basic schoolyard bullying insults that you might make against a gay or bisexual woman. One of them said I was an ugly bisexual.
''It's all quite basic, vile stuff to read about yourself over a sustained period.
''I never really thought about my looks, whether I was tall or short - you come to terms with what you look like, and then you get ridiculed in the paper.
''It's quite a shocking experience for someone who has lived their life as a private individual.
''I know I've fallen in love with a prominent politician but I am still a private individual. I have never sought public office and have never sought to be a famous person.''
She told Mr White: ''The fact is that for the Daily Mail, 'bisexual' is a dirty word. You've painted me as a spiky-haired, Doc Marten-wearing sexual deviant basically - a stereotyped individual, and that is what I object to.''
While she accepted that she was in the news for a proper reason - because of her affair with a then cabinet minister - she did not accept the newspaper was entitled to publish ''garbage'' about her private life.
''You are making me sound silly and pathetic for being upset - and why I didn't complain about this and that - I complain about it all; it's absolutely diabolical.''
She went on: ''I didn't expect to be ridiculed, lampooned, harassed, vilified and stereotyped by your newspaper. I anticipated it would be mentioned and it would go away again - I didn't expect a campaign against me.''
Ms Trimingham said she had become ''paranoid'' about how she looked in case it invited negative comment - to the extent that she was genuinely concerned about getting her hair cut.
''It is no exaggeration to say that the defendant's conduct has had a genuinely destructive effect on my day-to-day life.''
It had also affected her professionally as it was impossible to secure positive press coverage for clients whilst ''being harassed and harangued personally by one of the most powerful media organisations in the English-speaking world''.
The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.