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Case rests, Paris is dense

New York, Jan. 29: Ever since her rise to fame on the international party circuit, the debate has raged in the gossip columns from Los Angeles to London. Is heiress Paris Hilton really the most air-headed socialite the world has ever seen' Or, as her supporters claim, is her dizzy bimbo act so outrageous that it can only be a deliberate, if off-beat, self-marketing ploy'

Now, it seems, a leaked transcript of a legal statement she made in private may have proved the prosecution case beyond doubt. Her responses to a series of lawyers’ questions reveal that the heir to the Hilton Hotel fortune admits not knowing some of her friends’ names, thinks that everyone in Europe speaks French, and believes that London is not in the United Kingdom.

Her comments came when Hilton, 24, responded to a defamation lawsuit brought by actor Zeta Graff, who has accused her of planting untrue tabloid stories about an alleged fight the pair had in Kabaret, a London nightclub, last June.

From her witness statement emerges a picture of a rich, spoilt jet-setter, who finds herself bewildered and lonely despite her ritzy surroundings. Asked to remember who she was with in Kabaret on the night, she tells her perplexed lawyer Larry Stein: “I meet so many people. I don’t even know some of my friends’ names.”

When quizzed on the last name of a companion identified as Terry, the best she is able to offer is: “It is like a weird Greek name. Like Douglas.” Later in the interview, the woman whose surname is synonymous with international travel shows an astonishing ignorance of geography.

Asked whether the offending newspaper article appeared in any “UK publications”, she replied: “No. There is stuff in London.” When Stein pointed out that “London is a UK publication”, she conceded” “Right. UK. Whatever.”

She then blamed her confusion about where the article might have appeared on the fact that she had spent last summer in Europe, where English-language television and newspapers were, she said, unavailable. “I was in Europe the whole summer, and all there is is like French,” she explained. “I didn’t see anything because I wasn’t in America.”

The original article in New York Post had alleged that when Hilton went on to the dance floor with her former fianc', Paris Latsis, Graff ' an ex-lover of Latsis ' started screaming at them and had to be ejected from the club. While Graff admits an argument took place, she denies causing a scene and claims Hilton got her former publicist, Rob Shuter, to plant the story.

In her court testimony Hilton, who denies planting the story, was asked about an e-mail she sent apparently congratulating Shuter on his efforts. In a response which will no doubt have pleased Graff’s legal team, she replied: “Whatever I write in e-mail, it doesn’t mean anything. It is just words I write.”

Hilton, expected to inherit at least '30 million from the Hilton family fortune, also seems to show little sense of occasion or self-awareness. Under examination in the courtroom and facing a $10 million fine, she still thought it worth remarking aloud: “I’m hungry.”

Asked what caused the nightclub bust-up with Graff, she explained: “I just said to her, she is old and should stay at home with her child instead of being at nightclubs with young people. And just that, I just ' what else did I say' Just that she is not cute at all.”

It is not the first time Hilton has portrayed herself as a resident of the more remote regions of Planet Celebrity. She has previously admitted to not knowing what a soup kitchen was and thinking that the giant retailer Wal-Mart sold only wall-hangings.

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