Naomi Campbell was hand-cuffed and removed from a British Airways flight she was trying to board, and arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer who had been called to deal with the disturbance.
Police confirmed that a 37-year-old woman was arrested but refused to confirm her name. A spokesman for BA said: "We can confirm that a passenger was removed by police from a BA flight this afternoon."
Ms Campbell was due to catch a flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles at 4pm and apparently mislaid one of her three items of hand luggage. She is then said to have demanded that airport staff find the bag and rejected their offer to forward it on. As the incident escalated, staff asked her to leave the aircraft, accusing her of being unfit to fly.
Police were then called to deal with the incident and reports say she was heard screaming "get off me, leave me alone" before she allegedly assaulted a police officer. Her flight, BA269, left an hour and a half late. Bags belonging to the model and her entourage were removed from the aircraft.
Just before 10pm last night, Ms Campbell's publicist, Selina Aponte, emerged from Heathrow police station but told waiting reporters she had not seen her client. "I don't know anything. Naomi was flying to LA, she has family and friends over there and is always going over," she said.
Ms Campbell has been arrested numerous times over the past decade over at least eight claims that she physically and verbally abused her staff. Last year the 37-year-old, who has attended an anger-management course, was made to mop floors at New York's Sanitation Department as a punishment for throwing a mobile phone at her maid.
In October 2006 she spent 10 hours in a police cell after an alleged assault on her drugs councillor. Also in 2006, Ms Campbell, who is reportedly worth £35m, pleaded guilty to hitting her housekeeper over the head, and settled with undisclosed damages out of court. In 2005 Amanda Brack, a former assistant to the celebrity, filed a lawsuit claiming she was left "covered in blood" after being struck on the head with Ms Campbell's BlackBerry at a hotel room in Rome.
In 2004, a maid to Ms Campbell, Millicent Burton, accused the catwalk star of slapping her. Simone Craig, another assistant, claimed Ms Campbell kept her "hostage", a charge that the London-born model denied. But in 1998 she pleaded guilty to striking another aide, and again paid undisclosed damages.
Ms Campbell successfully sued the Daily Mirror for breach of privacy in 2002 after she was photographed leaving a drugs-counselling session.
She once told an interviewer: "Anger is a manifestation of a deeper issue, and that for me is based on insecurity, self-esteem and loneliness." After her community service last year, she wrote: "I find solace in sweeping. I have the time to think."
This incident comes after a relative period of quiet from Ms Campbell, who was said to be trying to change her image.