The former wife of George Best has called in lawyers over a controversial new book about the late Belfast football legend.
Babysitting George was written by journalist Celia Walden, who spent time “tracking” Best in the summer of 2003.
The author, the partner of Piers Morgan, was a junior reporter with the Mail On Sunday at the time and was dispatched to “babysit” their star columnist during the final weeks of his marriage to former air hostess Alex Best.
The book concentrates on Best's alcoholism and the women in his life, referring to his second wife as “dead-eyed” and a “once fair-skinned schoolgirl”.
But it is a baseless allegation that Alex “got off on” being assaulted by her ex-husband that has resulted in the legal team being called in.
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Alex, currently on holiday on the Continent, said she was unable to comment on Babysitting George as the matter was in the hands of her lawyers.
The 250-page book was the subject of discussion in the weekend Press, with the Observer publishing a lengthy review, describing it as “muck-raking tabloid journalism with pretensions towards something grander”.
The reviewer said it was not a football book or a “heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship”, but instead “a book about the mechanics of tabloid celebrity as tracked through the entropic heat of its central dying star”.
While acknowledging Babysitting George was “nicely written”, the review claims the book existed only “because Best was a celebrity, not because Walden has great passion for or insight into his career or character”.
In the book Walden wrote: “Then there were the women,” describing one of Best's girlfriends as having “an avid, opportunistic face”, while another was “bulky with eyebrows that bore down across her face giving her a dense look”.
The book also reveals that the first thing Best said to Walden was: “Can't you just leave me alone?”.
Alex Best, a former air hostess, married the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballing legend in 1995. They divorced in 2004 after almost 10 years together. During their marriage Best was battling alcoholism and the pair's relationship was often tempestuous. Alex appeared on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, and recently has been working as an interior designer. Her private life is quieter these days, too. At 39, she is single after splitting with London businessman Howard Kruger.