Movie beauty Cameron Diaz is at the centre of a legal battle after accusing a photographer of "stealing" a set of topless shots of her before she shot to fame.

Diaz, 32, insists the signature on the release form for the raunchy pictures is a forgery of her handwriting, and refuses to let photographer JOHN RUTTER sell the pictures for publication.

The wrangle kicked off in 2003 when Rutter approached Diaz, offering her the fetish-inspired shots for a staggering $3.5 million (GBP1.9 million).

The actress claims the accused was trying to extort her, but Rutter's defence lawyer MARK WERKMAN insists the photographer was simply trying to "be a nice guy" by coming to her first.

Rutter, 42, is charged with attempted grand theft, forgery and perjury - but Werkman has rubbished the charges, insisting Diaz is "crushing" Rutter in a desperate bid to save her reputation.

Werkman says,"Cameron Diaz used her wealth, power and fame to crush John Rutter and bury those photos."

The actress is expected to head for the witness box tomorrow (13JUL05).

Rutter faces five years in jail if convicted.

12/07/2005 05:30