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Bono's inner circle condemns the Mail's sleazy bikini spin

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The marriage of Bono and Ali Hewson is made of something special, says a
friend of the couple, adding that Ali is a great source of strength to the rock star

The marriage of Bono and Ali Hewson is made of something special, says a friend of the couple, adding that Ali is a great source of strength to the rock star

The marriage of Bono and Ali Hewson is made of something special, says a friend of the couple, adding that Ali is a great source of strength to the rock star

Friends of Bono have come to his defence and rubbished the thinly-veiled innuendo published in the Mail last week, after he had posed for pictures with two bikini-clad young women in the south of France.

Although an official line has yet to come from Bono's camp, close friends of the U2 frontman and his wife Ali Hewson condemn the spin put on the innocent photographs. The two young women in question have come out to strongly deny any impropriety.

The images made headlines across the globe but his childhood friend and noted artist Guggi voiced his distaste at the "gutter mentality" in certain sections of British-owned media, which he says have knowingly "made something out of nothing".

The photographs appeared in the British Mail on Sunday and its Irish offshoot, after the 48-year-old rock icon met two 19-year-olds, American fashion student Andrea Feick and her British friend Hannah Emerson, while drinking at a beach bar in St Tropez with friend Simon Carmody.

Enjoying the sunshine and in holiday mode, he obliged a request to pose for a photograph with the pair --who he is said to have known for several years -- even pulling a couple of his well-known showman poses.

The thrilled girls also took photographs of themselves on board the Edge's private yacht -- at one stage even donning Bono's trademark army cap.

But within days the pictures were snapped up by the Mail on Sunday after being posted on the social networking site, Facebook, by one of the girls.

Since then, both young women have completely rubbished the sleazy slant pushed by Associated Newspapers who used their column inches to pose question marks over Bono's 26-year marriage.

Ms Feick, who posted the pictures, told the newspaper that she had known Bono for a few years and their relationship was just friendship.

"I think that for somebody who's much older than I am . . . no thank you. He's a friend of mine and that's it," she said.

Now friends of the superstar have also sprung to his defence. Bono's childhood friend Guggi said he hadn't bothered looking at the images.

"It's this type of gutter mentality that makes something out of nothing," he said.

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"I haven't seen the pictures myself and I wouldn't want to see them. I make a point of not looking at that type of thing."

The Irish artist, who has remained friends with the U2 singer for more than 40 years, explained how Bono finds it difficult to turn away fans.

"He gives everyone the time of day. He finds it hard to say 'no' if anyone comes up to talk or ask him for a picture. There are plenty of photos out there with his arms around big fat men too -- it's just that none of those make the paper," he laughed.

Another close friend of the couple pointed out that if that picture had been taken in Dublin and the two girls were fully clothed, no one would bat an eyelid.

"A lot has been made of it because the girls are in bikinis but you have to remember the pictures were taken on a beach where that's the usual form of dress.

"There would be no difference had they approached him with a camera in Lillies. The only reason people are up in arms is due to the lack of clothes."

The source also spoke of the strength of Bono and Ali's marriage.

"To last that long, it would have to be made of something special. He lives in a rarefied atmosphere where people literally faint in his presence and if Bono is any way normal or down to earth, it is because of Ali. And at the end of the day she is the only person he has to answer to."

Bono is famous for his accessibility -- having no entourage and minimal security -- with only his driver occasionally doubling up as his minder.

He survives on a tight-knit circle of loyal friends --including Guggi and Gavin Friday -- who have been by his side since before his rapid rise to fame.

His group are often seen with him on nights out when he returns to Dublin, hanging out in a favourite haunt, Lillies Bordello.

Friends say they would be "ready to step in at a moment's notice" if anyone is causing him hassle.

Last summer, I was in that nightclub when the world's biggest rock star walked in.

Taking a seat at his usual table he got comfortable on a plush velvet couch as the giant red velvet curtains around the VIP area were drawn and he settled in to enjoy a couple of drinks.

I approached and we had a friendly chat.

Staring out at me from behind his famous yellow plastic glasses, he smiled politely as I introduced myself and made small talk about a relative of his that I knew.

What stands out is how polite, friendly and generous with his time he was -- especially as he was out trying to enjoy a few drinks with his friends. As I said goodbye I asked: "Any chance of a quick photo Bono?"

"I can't," he smiled with a shrug "What would it look like if I was getting my picture taken with women in clubs?"

The truth is he was giving me a polite brush off -- at the outset I had explained I was a journalist. As I see it, it was the fact that he is more accommodating to fans than to journalists that led to his being targeted by the British tabloid.

But despite Associated Newspapers' determination to bring the rock star's name into disrepute, Bono and Ali appeared unfazed last week as they holidayed in Disneyland, California, with their youngest children Elijah Bob (9), and John Abraham (7).

As the paparazzi snapped, Ali got into the spirit of the children's wonderland, donning a pair of Minnie Mouse ears while strolling beside her husband -- whose trademark green army cap was back where it rightfully belonged.


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