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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ryan Giggs puts on a brave face at Old Trafford hours after wife left home WITHOUT wedding ring following injunction revelation

By James Tozer

-Nick Clegg distances himself from MP who revealed Giggs' identity in the Commons
-Twitter users warned they could still be punished for breaking the injunction
-Photographers' cars damaged by vandals outside the couple's home
-Club boss Sir Alex Ferguson threatens journalist who mentioned Giggs
-Sun newspaper to make yet another attempt to have gagging order lifted
-'Injunction made protecting his privacy harder,' says PR guru
-Labour MP calls John Hemming's revelation 'an act of gross opportunism'

Braving the crowds: Ryan Giggs started the testimonial match just 24 hours afer the revelations regarding his private life were revealed in Parliament

Ryan Giggs has made his first public appearance following the revelations about his private life.

Giggs played the opening 30 minutes of a testimonial match for Gary Neville at Old Trafford alongside current and former Manchester United stars, including David Beckham.

His appearance comes just 24 hours after he was named in Parliament as the Premiership star who used a gagging order to hide details of a six-month affair with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

Team mates: Giggs played alongside David Beckham in the match, which was for Gary Neville who retired from football earlier this year

On Sunday Stacey Giggs, 32, appeared beaming on the pitch at Old Trafford – with wedding ring on show – as she helped her husband celebrate Manchester United winning the Premier League.

But after the gagging order keeping secret his alleged relationship with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas was rendered futile when it was exposed in Parliament, the couple apparently spent yesterday apart.

As the fallout from the affair continued, Miss Thomas yesterday told how the stress of the saga had affected her health.

And Giggs’s famously disciplinarian team manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was caught by a television microphone demanding a reporter be banned from the club’s next press conference for asking a question about the 37-year-old winger.

The strain was plain to see on the face of the footballer as he left his home to prepare for this evening's fixture.

Giggs looked pained as he arrived at the training ground after apparently staying in a secret location. Last night he played half an hour of a testimonial match – but there was no sign of his wife at the ground.

And despite the claims now being public knowledge, the large crowd at the stadium gave Giggs a warm welcome.

Feeling the strain: Ryan Giggs arriving at Manchester United's Carrington Training ground ahead of playing in the Gary Neville testimonial game at Old Trafford

Stacey Giggs, pictured on Sunday on the Old Trafford pitch, left home without her wedding ring yesterday after her husband was named as the player who tried to hide an affair with an injunction

However, Mrs Giggs, who has two young children by the £80,000-a-week star and who has stayed silent throughout the scandal, was pictured without her wedding ring leaving the couple’s gated £6million home near Manchester.

Police were later called to the street where the couple live after reports that a number of cars belonging to the paparazzi had been damaged.

Officers found that six vehicles had been attacked by a group of masked men who approached in a van.

Earlier in the day, club manager Sir Alex Ferguson refused to answer questions about his veteran midfielder, seeming at one point to ban a reporter who dared raise the issue.

After the journalist, thought to be Rob Harris, asked his question, Sir Alex was caught on microphone asking a media officer: 'Is he coming on Friday?'

After receiving an affirmative reply, he added: 'Then we'll get him. Ban him on Friday', apparently referring to the press conference ahead of the Barcelona game on Saturday.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of internet users flouting injunctions were warned they could be in for a ‘rude shock’.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said that until MPs decided to overhaul privacy legislation, it was up to judges to interpret the law – and they could punish those who break it.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg appeared to support this position, apparently rebuking the Liberal Democrat who named Ryan Giggs as the footballer at the centre of the privacy row.

John Hemming used Parliamentary privilege on Monday to name the Manchester United star as the Premier League player who took out an injunction over his relationship with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

Speaking at Deputy Prime Minister's questions in the Commons yesterday, Mr Clegg said: 'I don't think anyone should be above the rule of law and if we don't like the law we should act as legislators to change the law and not flout it.'

Mr Clegg was responding to Labour's Stella Creasy who asked him: 'Could the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on discussions he has had with Government and party colleagues on the circumstances in which Parliamentarians should be above the rule of law?'

And Labour MP John Cryer appeared to condemn the actions of Lib Dem MP John Hemming in using parliamentary privilege to name the footballer.

Raising a point of order in the Commons, Mr Cryer questioned the public interest in the move and branded it 'an act of gross opportunism by a politician on an ego trip'.

He said: 'Every member of this House will doubtless be aware that yesterday the honourable member for Birmingham, Yardley, and I use the word honourable in its broadest possible sense, named a Premiership footballer who is at the centre of the super-injunction row.

'Now I think a lot of people in this place and outside find it very difficult to see exactly what the public interest is in naming that footballer, apart from being an act of gross opportunism by a politician on an ego trip.

Imogen Thomas leaves her agent Max Clifford's office after Ryan Giggs was named as the footballer who had a six-month affair with her

'Could you Mr Deputy Speaker reiterate the traditional attitudes of the House towards this kind of gross abuse of privilege?'

Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle responded by echoing Commons Speaker John Bercow's previous comments, stating: 'I strongly deprecate the abuse of the parliamentary privilege to flout an order or score a particular point. It is important that we recognise the need to temper our privilege with a responsibility.'

PR guru Max Clifford - who has acted as publicist for the model - said yesterday that had the footballer not taken out the injunction, then probably no-one would have known about the relationship.

He said Miss Thomas had never intended to sell her story and the affair could have been hushed up.

Mr Clifford, who met with Miss Thomas at his London office yesterday to discuss her next step, told ITV1's Daybreak programme: 'I will see what she wants to do but, because of the previous conversations, I know that she never had any intention of selling her story.

'She came to me because she wanted to make sure the story didn't come out, and I told her "Phone Ryan Giggs and warn him that The Sun are looking into this, and knocking on your door, because if you don't talk, and Ryan Giggs doesn't talk, no one will know".

'And that's the irony of it - if Ryan Giggs hadn't taken out a super-injunction, probably we wouldn't know what had been going on.

'It's only because of that, and of course the fact that, in that super-injunction that he got to protect his privacy and that of his family, he named Imogen, that the whole thing started down that trail that led to it coming out in Parliament yesterday.

'If he hadn't taken out a super-injunction, no-one would probably have known about this relationship.'

Before the storm: The couple on holiday in Marbella in 2005, two years before they married

Interviewed before Giggs was exposed, Miss Thomas told Closer magazine: ‘Usually I only drink about once a week, if that, but now I’m drinking about three big glasses of wine a night, and I’ve got a bottle of wine waiting for me in the fridge.

'I’ve only been sleeping about five hours a night and I’m exhausted and feel sick all the time. I just feel so stressed I can’t be bothered to eat properly and I’ve lost weight.’

The Prime Minister admitted on Monday morning that even he knew that Giggs was the footballer at the centre of the furore, hours before his name was revealed in Parliament.

Senior MPs from all parties said it was clear that the law was a farce, with tens of thousands using Twitter to discuss the identities of those hiding embarrassing secrets with injunctions.

Sir Alex Ferguson, addressing the media for the first time since Ryan Giggs was named in a privacy row, looks unimpressed at Rob Harris's question

Believing the microphone to be off he chats to a media officer about banning him from Friday's session

But Mr Grieve, in an emergency debate in the Commons, said: ‘Those who I think may take an idea that modern methods of communication mean they can act with impunity may well find themselves in for a rude shock.

‘The courts do have the power to punish those who breach injunctions. Those who decide flagrantly to do so should bear that in mind.’

With the courts and Parliament in an extraordinary stand-off, the Prime Minister ordered the setting up of a joint committee of both Houses to consider whether there should be a change in the law relating to privacy injunctions.

The committee, made up of senior MPs and peers, will report back in the autumn on how current arrangements can be improved.

Mr Cameron suggested that the Press Complaints Commission’s role could be beefed up so that judges are less likely to grant gagging orders taken out by the rich and famous.

The Prime Minister indicated that he knew the identity of the footballer linked to a controversial privacy case ‘like everybody else’.

He added: ‘It is rather unsustainable, this situation, where newspapers can’t print something that clearly everybody else is talking about, but there’s a difficulty here because the law is the law and the judges must interpret what the law is.

‘What I’ve said in the past is, the danger is that judges are effectively writing a new law which is what Parliament is meant to do.

Nick Clegg appeared to distance himself from John Hemming's behaviour in the Commons

‘So I think the Government, Parliament, has got to take some time out, have a proper look at this, have a think about what we can do, but I’m not sure there is going to be a simple answer.

‘It’s not fair on the newspapers if all the social media can report this and the newspapers can’t, so the law and the practice has got to catch up with how people consume media today.’

Right-wing Tory MPs, however, suggested fundamental reform would not be possible unless Mr Cameron came good on his pre-election pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act, which guarantees a right to privacy.

Others insisted Commons Speaker John Bercow must stand up more clearly for the right of lawmakers to discuss any issue they wished in Parliament.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, the head of the judiciary, suggested last week that senior judges would be holding talks to discuss possible restrictions on the ancient right of MPs and peers to raise any issue without legal repercussions.

Conservative MP Peter Bone called on the Attorney General to tell judges they should ‘butt out’.



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