Former It Girl kneed ex-lover in groin

A former It Girl walked free yesterday after admitting kneeing her ex-lover in the groin during a courtroom brawl.

Asked for her plea to common assault at London's City of Westminster magistrates' court, Birgit Cunningham replied: "Guilty as hell."

Cunningham, a former flatmate of Liz Hurley and who once dated Kevin Costner, lashed out at billionaire's son Harry Nuttall minutes after losing an October 2005 child maintenance appeal at the High Court.

In a foul-mouthed rage, Cunningham scratched Mr Nuttall and punched him in the head, eyes and ears, and kneed him in the groin.

He was in pain and suffered swollen testicles and bruises to the head, the court heard.

Public school-educated Cunningham, 43, of Ladbroke Grove, west London, also pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Nuttall's barrister when she came to his aid, throwing a pitcher of water over her.

Several members of court staff had to step in and restrain her.

Cunningham told magistrates yesterday she had reacted after "suffering provocation and verbal abuse from Harry Nuttall for five years", and a four-year legal battle over their son.

Mr Nuttall, a part-time racing driver and the son of Bahamas-based Sir Nicholas Nuttall, pays 5 a week maintenance and she wants him to pay more, the court heard.

Cunningham, founder of the Babies For Justice campaign group, was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay 60 costs.

In March Cunningham led a group of angry single mothers on a protest at Downing Street, complaining about the Child Support Agency.