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TV Presenter Sues Arnold Over Groping Claim Denial

ARNOLD Schwarzenegger faces an embarrassing libel battle in the British courts over an alleged sex attack.
The Hollywood tough guy turned Californian governor could have his colourful private life subjected to intense scrutiny and faces potential legal costs in excess of $2.5 million.
He could also have to pay hefty damages. British TV presenter Anna Richardson, 32, is suing the 57-year-old Terminator star for libel after he claimed she falsely accused him of groping her in order to damage his political ambitions. The case stems from an incident in December 2000 when she was interviewing him for an ITV entertainment program in the Dorchester hotel in London.
Miss Richardson claimed he pulled her on to his knee and asked if her breasts were real, then circled her left nipple with his finger before telling her: "Yes, they are real".
At the time, a spokesman for Mr Schwarzenegger's film The Sixth Day laughed off the incident, saying: "Arnie is a big flirt- as is Anna. Most presenters know how to handle him and understand he's just flirting."
The allegation resurfaced when Mr Schwarzenegger was running for office as governor of California and came days after he admitted taking a training course about steering clear of sexual harassment claims.
His campaign was almost derailed by allegations that he had groped and molested 16 women.
The claims ranged from grabbing a woman's breast in a gym in 1975 to spanking a woman in a Los Angeles sound studio 15 years later.
Miss Richardsons claim was rejected by Mr Schwarzenegger's political campaign manager Sean Walsh in an article published in the Los Angeles Times in October 2003. Mr Walsh claimed she had fabricated the allegation to hurt Mr Schwarzenegger's campaign.
The article was also published on the internet. Miss Richardson, who had been working for the LWT show Big Screen, was furious and filed a libel suit against Mr Schwarzenegger, Mr Walsh and the actor's publicist Sheryl Main at the High Court in London.
Miss Richardson, a vicar's daughter, claims she has been libelled and that her reputation as a professional interviewer has been damaged.
If Mr Scbwarzenegger, loses he could be ordered to pay damages to Miss Richardson running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Legal experts say no trial is likely before the end of the year - if the matter is not settled out of court first. Legal battles have seen Mr Walsh repeatedly try, and fail, to block the action.

Adelaide Avdertiser (22-1-2005)
David Wilkes

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