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Melania Trump, Daily Mail Parent Settle Over Escort Story

Melania Trump has scored a victory over Britain’s Daily Mail, which apologized to the first lady Wednesday and agreed to pay damages over an article that suggested she once worked as an escort.

Trump sued the newspaper and its Mail Online website in February over the article, which appeared last August. A settlement was announced in a joint statement Wednesday from attorneys for Trump and for the tabloid’s parent company, Mail Media.

“The First Lady Melania Trump is very pleased that she has resolved this matter favorably with the Daily Mail, which has issued a full and complete retraction and apology for its false statements about her, and agreed to pay her million of dollars in damages and full reimbursement of her legal fees costs,” a representative said on behalf of the First Lady. “Mrs. Trump will remain vigilant to protect her good name and reputation from those who make false and defamatory statements about her.”

The Mail retracted its story, acknowledging that “these allegations about Mrs. Trump are not true….We apologize to Mrs. Trump for any distress that our publication caused her.”

The statement said that the tabloid had agreed to pay the first lady damages and costs, though the amount was not disclosed. The Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying the settlement was worth less than $3 million. The original suit had sought compensatory and punitive damages of $150 million.

The offending article ran under the headline, “Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife’s past that could derail Trump.” Published during the heat of the U.S. presidential campaign, the report “questioned the nature of [Mrs. Trump’s] work as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modeling,” as the Mail’s statement Wednesday described it. The article also suggested that she and Donald Trump may have met three years earlier than they claimed and that they later “staged” a pretend first meeting as a “ruse.”

Melania Trump filed suit in London against the Daily Mail and in Maryland against the Mail Online. A Maryland judge dismissed the suit in February, saying it shouldn’t have been filed in the state. It was re-filed in New York three days later.

The filing argued that the Mail’s report damaged Melania Trump’s “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term.”

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