Bosnian-born Irma Nici told the magazine that the star paid £3,200 for her services whilst in New York for a Galaxy game against New York Red Bulls. She claims that he then requested a curvy brunette join them at Le Parker Meridien Hotel and paid a further £1,500 for her company. Irma also suggested she met Beckham on a number of further occasions, once at Claridge’s Hotel in London.
A News of the World story this weekend alleged that Irma has no proof to back up any of her allegations. Senior staff from the New York Hotel have apparently said that neither Nici nor Beckham were there on the dates Irma suggested. A spokesperson has revealed Beckham was actually staying at the Waldorf Astoria.
Irma’s allegations were published by German media group Bauer across America in the In Touch Weekly lifestyle magazine, which operates in 15 countries including Britain. It has been reported that Beckham’s representative sent legal warnings to Bauer before the magazine was published warning that if the allegations were made in print, Beckham would take legal action. The fact that the allegations were not published on the In Touch Website outside the US has restricted the territories in which Beckham can take legal action.
Due to the importance placed on freedom of speech in the US, it has been suggested that legal action against the magazine itself is unlikely to succeed. Beckham has reportedly instructed Gerrard Tyrrell, senior partner at London media lawyers Harbottle and Lewis to protect his UK interests, and Top trial lawyer Bert Deixler in the US.
On 24th September Beckham reportedly lodged a $25 million writ in the Los Angeles Superior Court. A writ is similar to a Claim Form in the UK. Beckham is apparently claiming around $16 million plus punitive damages from everyone involved in the publication, from writers and editors to photographers and distributors. Named on the writ itself are Bauer Publishing Company LP, Bauer Magazine LP, Bauer Media Group INC, Bauer Inc, Bauer North America Inc, Michelle Lee and Irma Nici. The writ accuses publisher Bauer and Editor Michelle Lee of libel (written, broadcast, or otherwise published words), slander (transitory statements) and intentional infliction of emotional distress, despite being expressly warned that the story was total fabrication. Irma Nici is accused of damaging his reputation and causing him ‘mental anguish’. The writ states: “The case arises from defendants’ publication of lies to make money for themselves and to embarrass and inflict emotional distress upon Beckham, a world-famous athlete. Defendants published these statements with actual malice and with intent to profit by causing harm to Beckham.”
The New of the World reported that on Friday 2 off-duty cops armed with the 21 page document were staking out a New York hotel where Irma has been hiding out since the allegations were published, waiting to personally serve her with a £5million writ.