JAN MOIR: Ryan Giggs is a terrible husband, a cheating boyfriend, a moral void, a control freak, a bad bet, a worse poet, a self-confessed liar and a chronic flirt – but does any of this make him a criminal?
Ryan Giggs is a terrible husband, a cheating boyfriend, a moral void, a control freak, a bad bet, a worse poet, a self-confessed liar and a chronic flirt – but does any of this make him a criminal?
Even a jury could not decide. I attended his trial last August at Manchester Crown Court, where the jurors were unable to reach verdicts on charges of assault and controlling behaviour against his former girlfriend Kate Greville.
Now a putative retrial has collapsed, following Greville’s reluctance to attend court and go through it all again.
Certainly, she didn’t much like being cross-examined for three days during the first trial, where she gave her evidence behind a grey curtain, invisible to the public gallery and the surveillance of Giggs, sitting in the dock where she had put him.
There were moments when she sobbed loudly, but she stuck to her story despite considerable pressure from Giggs’s legal team.
Ryan Giggs (centre) is a terrible husband, a cheating boyfriend, a moral void, a control freak, a bad bet, a worse poet, a self-confessed liar and a chronic flirt, writes Jan Moir
It was a bitter trial for the modern age, involving allegations of infidelity, jealousy, coercive control and violence, both in person and online.
I think it’s fair to say that there were times during the relationship when neither of them behaved very well.
‘This is not a court of morals,’ Judge Hilary Manley told the jury during her summing up.
At the heart of the case, they had to decide if Giggs had subjected Greville to a ‘litany’ of abuse, both psychological and physical – or was her version of events merely the ‘distortion, exaggerations and lies’ of a scorned woman seeking revenge on her faithless lover?
In this narrative of cheating hearts and sex bruises, who was telling the truth?
Their love affair was a typical tale of curdled Wagtastic romance which began when she was hired as a publicist to promote his hotel business.
Both were married to other people at the time, but so what? The attraction was mutual, the whistle of desire blew long and hard, the game was on.
Their romance played out across the 500-thread count, deathless deluxe of Wagland; hotels in Abu Dhabi, poolside in Dubai, sushi restaurants and five-star suites in London and Manchester. Yet behind the dinners at La Petite Maison, the cringing love poetry and the generous gifts from Harrods, there were problems.
The ex-Manchester United footballer, 49, was facing charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm over an alleged headbutt on Kate Greville, 38, (pictured) plus further counts of coercive or controlling behaviour against her and common assault against her sister Emma
On the surface they were an attractive, wealthy couple who should have been enjoying the spoils of success, yet they seemed to spend most of their time squabbling like teenagers.
In court we drilled down into the minutiae of their mutual jealousy, the endless accusations and counter-accusations of infidelity; depressing enough to behold, surely torture to endure. How could the beauty of love bloom in this compost of distrust?
Yet somehow, it did. His legal team said that the romance ‘had more ups than downs’ and to paraphrase Meat Loaf, Greville herself admitted that ‘four and a half years’ out of six weren’t bad. He kept a Valentine’s card she wrote to him and once sent her flowers every day for a week after a fight. ‘It was ridiculous,’ she said.
READ MORE: Ryan Giggs is ‘deeply relieved’ as he’s cleared of domestic violence charges: Prosecutors drop case against former Man United star as ex Kate Greville declines to give evidence in retrial
Romeo or brute? From the Press benches it was hard to tell. Day after day, Giggs sat in the bulletproof glass dock of court two, usually staring straight ahead.
In contrast to the violent explosions of behaviour alleged by the prosecution, he exuded the taut stillness of the professional athlete.
The only visible sign of tension was an occasional little neck roll, like a boxer about to enter a ring. Sometimes he would sit outside the courtroom with his legal team, tap-tapping away on his mobile phone.
‘He is attached to his phone,’ said Greville in court.
Indeed, much of the evidence focused on their personal electronic devices; their mobile phone communications and iPads, the WhatsApp groups, the 19,000 emails they sent to each other, their social media status, who was following who on Instagram, the sex films they made together and stored on their devices and the threats that flew across cyberspace like poison darts.
‘Tick tock,’ he would message, when she failed to respond quickly enough to one of his electronic missives.
At the heart of the case, judges had to decide if Giggs had subjected Greville to a ‘litany’ of abuse, both psychological and physical – or was her version of events merely the ‘distortion, exaggerations and lies’ of a scorned woman seeking revenge on her faithless lover?
The couple would regularly block and unblock each other on various accounts as a way of expressing disapproval or withholding affection. They used social media as monitoring devices to track each other’s emotional state and physical whereabouts.
Indeed, you could say that their relationship began and ended with mobile phones; starting when she sent him a crop-top selfie (‘I saw her abs, I thought she looked hot’) and ending in a fight over phones in the utility room in his Tudorbethan footballer’s mansion in Worsley. They had stolen each other’s phones and were grappling wildly, trying to get them back.
What might have happened if they had put down their devices, lived in the moment and actually talked to each other instead? What might have happened if Giggs had been a better man – the type of husband or boyfriend who could rise above the effortless lechery of a Premier League star in a big football city such as Manchester, where men like him are indulged?
In the shadow of his unfaithfulness, Greville had to endure the deceit until she could take it no more. ‘It was all there on his iPad, in black and white,’ she alleged.
The jury was asked to decide if she was a woman who could not accept his serial cheating and was exacting her revenge, or if he was a violent man, capable of coercion and control.
In the end, the court could not establish exactly what either party was or was not physically and psychologically capable of – and now Ryan Giggs has been cleared of all charges, case dismissed.
On these counts he is an innocent man, but only two people really know the truth about the flawed, scalded relationship they both ultimately survived.
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