Paparazzi scared Kidman in car chase
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hollywood star Nicole Kidman said on Monday she crouched on the back seat of her car, tearful and frightened that it would crash as she was pursued by a paparazzi photographer in Australia in 2005.
Kidman told the New South Wales Supreme Court that her driver John Manning said the photographer pursuing them, as they headed to her parents' Sydney home on January 23, 2005, was driving recklessly, had run a red light and jumped a concrete divider.
"I was crouched down for most of the trip," Kidman told the court, demonstrating how she rested her head on her hands which were in a pray-like pose.
"I was told by John Manning that we were being followed by Jamie Fawcett and another car. He said they were driving crazy, had run a red a light and jumped a median strip," she said.
"I was frightened and I was worried about a car accident. I was really, really scared," said the Oscar-winning actress.
When she eventually arrived at her parents' house her driver was shaken and she was "in tears and distressed", Kidman said, in testimony which evoked images of the Paris car chase in which Princess Diana was killed in 1997.
Dressed in a grey skirt and cream blouse and cardigan, the Australian actress was giving evidence in a defamation case by Sydney photographer Jamie Fawcett against Fairfax Media.
A Supreme Court jury has found a January 2005 article in the Sun Herald newspaper defamed Fawcett and the current hearings are considering whether the publishers have any defence.
Kidman was escorted into the packed Sydney courtroom by three sheriffs, who had to bring in extra chairs for the actress and her legal team to sit on.
Sitting bolt upright, Kidman answered many questions with a simple "yes" or "yeah" and was at times asked by Judge Carolyn Simpson to speak up. During her evidence Fawcett sat in court, sometimes rustling through paperwork.
Kidman said that she had not actually seen Fawcett pursue her on the day in 2005. But she said on the same day her mother had spotted the photographer outside Kidman's luxury east Sydney home and her staff had told her a listening device had been found by the house.
Kidman said she felt "deeply disturbed" by the discovery of the listening device.
She said Fawcett and his employees had pursued her on numerous occasions and that she was now too scared to drive herself and employed a driver and 24 hour security service.
"I have been pursued many times, in relation to this particular man and the people he has employed to follow me," said Kidman.
She told the court that her security had told her that Fawcett had been on her honeymoon island in Tahiti, but that she did not see him or any other photographer.
One incident in which Kidman did see Fawcett pursue her occurred during a Christmas 2006 holiday in Australia when she and her husband Keith Urban felt trapped in their beach house.
"We were told that Jamie Fawcett was hiding in the bushes outside the house and we were told this by the security I employ," said Kidman.
"I didn't want to stay up there feeling trapped and so didn't Keith, so we decided to drive back and we were pursued by Jamie Fawcett," she said.
Kidman said that when her husband stopped the car to check their legal rights with Fawcett, who once had a court restraining order placed on him by Kidman, the photographer started taking pictures.
Kidman has been at the centre of several paparazzi incidents.
In 1999, a freelance journalist was convicted in the United States of illegally taping an intercepted telephone call from Kidman to her then-husband, actor Tom Cruise, and selling the tape to a tabloid newspaper.
The Sydney case continues, hearing evidence on the definition of defamation.
(Editing by Rosalind Russell)
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