Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

No hiding place as Ryan Giggs faces the media’s glare

Ryan Giggs is at the centre of a media storm over an alleged relationship with Imogen Thomas

There's no place to hide when you're on the pitch in front of a packed Old Trafford.

And there were probably many places Ryan Giggs would rather be than in the full glare of the world's media last night.

But the scandal-hit footballer was not going to let good friend and team-mate Gary Neville down, so he turned out for half-an-hour of the retiring Neville's testimonial game at the Theatre of Dreams.

Four days ago on this same pitch it had all been so different for English football's most decorated player as he accepted his 12th championship medal and the applause of tens of thousands of fans.

But that all changed 24 hours later when an MP used Parliamentary privilege to unmask the married 37-year-old as the man who had taken out a ‘super-injunction' to prevent details of an alleged affair with model and former Big Brother star Imogen Thomas being published.

Yesterday the Welsh ace, who for weeks had been the subject of unwanted attention on the Twitter website, found himself on the front pages of every national newspaper.

And his appearance in the friendly against Italian side Juventus — his first public appearance since the scandal broke — capped what must surely have been one of the most surreal days in the superstar footballer's life.

Earlier in the day, journalists' cars were attacked outside Giggs' six-bedroom mansion in Worsley, Greater Manchester — and then his boss, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, tried to have a journalist banned after he asked an innocuous Giggs-related question at a Press conference.

Ferguson is livid at his player being ‘outed' with the Champions League final against Barcelona coming up on Saturday night.

But Old Trafford sources last night said Giggs wanted to make an appearance in the Neville friendly to “face the music” and try to relieve what has become a tense build-up to the big European showdown at Wembley.

As expected, the veteran player got a warm reception from the United fans but photographers snapped every minute of his brief appearance in the game.

It is alleged that other media were pelted with eggs and flour outside Giggs' house and then had their cars left with smashed windows and slashed tyres.

A Greater Manchester Police statement said: “Officers attended and discovered at least six cars had been vandalised after a group of offenders arrived in a Ford Transit van and attacked the vehicles.”

Meanwhile John Hemming, the MP who named Giggs in the House of Commons, yesterday denied he had used Parliamentary privilege at all.

He argued that the footballer’s name was already in the public domain, having been published online, and that he would not have been prosecuted for contempt of court if he had named him outside Parliament.

“Privilege is an important issue and it does need to be used responsibly,” said Mr Hemming.

He added: “To have abused privilege I had to use it in the first instance, no-one has evidenced to me the basis upon which it would have been contempt of court for me to make the speech I made yesterday (Monday) outside the House — and if it wasn't contempt of court outside the House it can not be an abuse of privilege.”

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