Blessed with enviably flawless looks, a tall, athletic frame and George Clooney-style salt-and-pepper hair, Nick Harrold was an internationally successful male model.
But all that crashed to a halt, he says, after he fell while boarding a jet, leaving him with facial injuries and a squint that wrecked his career.
Now he is suing German airline Lufthansa for £7 million for earnings he has lost since the 2012 accident, when he slipped on a ‘wet and oily residue’ while walking along the air bridge to board a London flight at Munich airport.
Before then, he had modelled for many of the world’s leading designers, including Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren, in a career stretching back to the 1980s – and had graced the pages of Vogue and other top fashion magazines.
Ironically, he once modelled in a campaign for Lufthansa’s first class section.
In his claim, lodged in the High Court, Mr Harrold, 56, says that he suffered a knee injury and damaged teeth in the fall, as well as a ‘disfiguring’ squint.
He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I was a successful international model for decades and I have been left unable to do the job I love. Having a squint as a model is a showstopper. In addition, I’ve had major problems with my knee and have had to have operations on it, meaning I was unable to work.
‘Now I’ve been told I may have to have my knee replaced, which will mean another two years out of work. My knee has been locking and it would not be a great trait for a model to fall off the catwalk in Milan into the crowd.’
Lawyers for Mr Harrold – who was born Harald Denker in Germany but has lived in West London for many years – argue that his symptoms following the accident placed him at a ‘disadvantage’ on the open labour market.
In support of his claim, industry experts estimate Mr Harrold could have commanded at least £300,000 a year since 2012, given his appeal to the important middle-aged market.
The case recently came before Judge Neil Bidder QC for a pre-trial directions hearing. Mr Harrold’s barrister, Asela Wijeyaratne, told the judge: ‘As a result of his facial deformity – his squint – his photographic material had to be altered using Photoshop.’
Lufthansa admit Mr Harrold fell and ‘suffered some bodily injury’, but they vehemently dispute that the claim is worth £7 million.
Charles Bagot QC, for Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said: ‘This claim has grown beyond all recognition.
‘The claim was issued in August 2014. At that time, it was stated to be worth less than £100,000 and the only medical evidence was that of an orthopaedic surgeon.
‘It was not until 2017 that he first served evidence from an ophthalmologist alleging that the accident had also exacerbated a pre-existing squint which affects his career as a male model.’
The airline also claims Mr Harrold had not modelled for a long period before the accident.
Isabel Bathurst, of law firm Slater and Gordon, which represents Mr Harrold, said: ‘Our client was a highly successful model at the peak of his career, but all of this was snatched away from him because of devastating injuries he suffered through an incident that were no fault of his own.’
The case will return to the High Court for a full hearing next year.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.