She made a distinction that financier Epstein had been jailed for “soliciting prostitution from minors”, telling GMB host Piers Morgan: “That is not the same thing as paedophilia.”
Campbell went on to add “I’m not justifying Jeffrey Epstein.”
The explosive incident was covered in a slew of news articles and reportedly led to Campbell being dropped from the Christmas lights switch-on in the village of Tetbury, near to Prince Charles’ Highgrove home.
Campbell had been invited on to the breakfast TV show the day after Prince Andrew’s infamous appearance on BBC’s Newsnight, when he was quizzed about his links to Epstein. Prince Andrew vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Epstein died in prison while awaiting a trial on child sex trafficking charges.
Campbell has launched libel proceedings against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over a Daily Mirror article about her TV appearance.
The article claimed GMB viewers were left “open-mouthed” when Campbell “appeared on Breakfast TV to defend Epstein’s right to rape children”.
MGN has filed a defence to the libel claim, arguing the article was “true in substance and in fact”.
At the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Johnson made a preliminary ruling on the meaning that ordinary readers would take from the news article.
He decided the Mirror had asserted as fact that “Lady Colin Campbell appeared on a breakfast television programme. She did so to defend the rape of children by Epstein. Her defence was that the children had been 14-year-old prostitutes rather than minors.”
The judge added that the article was an opinion piece, putting forward the view: “This is a shocking thing to say. Her comments are an exemplar of the sordid world of the entitled elite.”
The court heard Campbell is not arguing with the right of the newspaper to fair comment, but that the “statements of fact in the article were defamatory and unjust”.
Both sides in the legal dispute have now been ordered to review their cases in light of the ruling, before the case can comeback before the court.