The journalist behind a magazine feature about Melania Trump which sparked an apology and payment of damages from the Daily Telegraph is now threatening to sue the British newspaper, claiming she's been defamed in the process.
Last week, the Telegraph pulled its Jan. 19 magazine cover story about Melania Trump's life written by US author and freelance journalist Nina Burleigh.
The Telegraph posted an apology online for a "number of false statements" made in the article, and revealed the newspaper had paid "substantial damages" to the first lady.
But Burleigh — a Newsweek journalist and author of a recent book about Donald Trump's previous relationships with women — has hired lawyers who have sent a legal letter to the Telegraph claiming the apology was posted "without Ms Burleigh's knowledge or consent".
"In short, your Apology traduces Ms Burleigh’s reputation as a competent journalist by asserting that many of the statements in the Article and by extension in the Book from which the Article was derived, both authored by her, are false," the letter reads.
"In fact, it is TMG’s (Telegraph Media Group's) Apology that is false."
The letter from law firm McAllister Olivarius claims that Melania Trump's lawyer Charles Harder — whom the letter refers to as the "Gawker slayer" for his role in the lawsuit which bankrupted Gawker — had caused the Telegraph to "capitulate abjectly in the face of his letter without regard to normal journalistic principles, at the cost of Ms Burleigh's personal and professional reputation."
It also claimed that widespread coverage of the apology had turned the author into an "international poster girl for 'fake news'", and criticised the Telegraph for what they described as "the particularly lurid way it abandoned the Article".
On Friday, the Telegraph did not return a request for comment.
Speaking over the phone to BuzzFeed News, Burleigh said she wants the British newspaper to retract the apology and post its own apology to her, and to receive compensation for any financial loss she's likely to suffer as a result.
Burleigh also claimed the Telegraph still hasn't paid her money for the original article.
"I want them to remove the apology and correct the errors that defame me," Burleigh told BuzzFeed News. "I want my reputation back."
The newspaper's 243-word apology was posted last Saturday, and was seized on by critics of the media coverage of the Trump White House, leading to a tweet from the president calling it "fake news".
The apology went into detail about specific allegations and statements made in the Telegraph story, including about Melania Trump's modelling career and crying on election night, that the newspaper now wanted to retract.
In the legal letter written to the Telegraph on Friday, Burleigh's lawyers claim the article was "based largely on reporting from Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump's Women" which had been published in the US. The New York Post reported the book's publishers Simon & Schuster "has not been sued" for the book.
Burleigh told BuzzFeed News she was taking the action to show that "fearsome lawyers" shouldn't be able to intimidate media organisations.
"It could happen to any reporter," she said. "Powerful people with fearsome lawyers shouldn’t be able to cow major publications."