In 2004, Richardson sued the Terminator star and two members of his team for libel due to comments made in response to allegations that he groped her during an interview in 2000.
Schwarzenegger, 76, denied the groping allegations. The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2006.
In a new interview on the Shaping Success podcast, Naked Attraction host Richardson opened up about the lawsuit and the way it impacted her career.
Explaining how she had to “choose my words very, very carefully here”, Richardson, 52, told host Fleur East: “There was an incident, or there was an ‘alleged’ incident, and subsequently I took legal action. I sued Schwarzenegger and his team for libel… and we settled out of court.”
Richardson then clarified that she was simplifying “a great big story”, adding: “But that moment defined me… Shortly afterwards I spent a long time out of work, which was really difficult.
“I went from presenting a show and working in television to signing on. People going in my local job centre, ‘Are you that girl that does that-”, I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I am that girl. Can I get my housing benefit please? Thanks.’”
Richardson, however, said that those “very, very difficult times” taught her “real resilience” and to be “unafraid to stand up” in the face of “what I consider to be an injustice”.
“It took me a long time, but the legal action that I took ended up in settling out of court… and I learnt how to get back into television,” she said. “So leave my presenting career behind, and I went back in in a development role. But it took me a long time to get back in.”
Richardson was presenting on ITV’s film show Big Screen, and was interviewing Schwarzenegger for his 2000 film The Sixth Day when the alleged incident happened. According to the British presenter, he groped her breast during the interview.
Three years later, Richardson was one of six of women to make allegations of sexual misconduct against the Terminator star in a report by The Los Angeles Times. At the time, Schwarzenegger was running to be governor of California.
Richardson said that Schwarzenegger had been a “perfect gentleman” when she’d interviewed him on previous occasions, but that “this time around was quite different”.
“He kept looking at my breasts, kept asking if I worked out,” she recalled in the LA Times piece. “I went to shake his hand and he grabbed me onto his knee and he said, ‘Before you go, I want to know if your breasts are real.’”
Richardson, who was 29 at the time, alleged that when she replied that her breasts were real, he touched her left nipple and said that they were real.
The actor denied the claims, with his publicist Sheryl Main claiming that Richardson had behaved “provocatively” during the interview, cupping her own breast and sitting on Schwarzenegger’s lap before she was escorted from the room. Main claimed that Richardson later made up the story.
As a result, Richardson sued Schwarzenegger, Main and his campaign spokesperson Sean Walsh for libel, claiming the denial implied that she had "deliberately and dishonestly fabricated” the allegations.
The lawsuit was settled out of court in August 2006.