Sunday 25 February 2018

Welsh Wizard couldn't make gossip disappear

Steven Swinford

AS he held his children aloft and celebrated the 12th Premier League title of his career on Sunday, Ryan Giggs appeared overjoyed.

The Manchester United winger soaked up the applause of more than 70,000 fans, including Stacey Cooke, his wife. But less than 24 hours later, he was facing disgrace.

While the 37-year-old trained yesterday ahead of Saturday's Champion's League final, he was identified on the floor of the House of Commons as the English Premier League footballer who obtained a gagging order to prevent his alleged extra-marital affair being made public.

Giggs has been fighting an increasingly desperate battle to keep the allegations secret.

He broke into the Manchester United first team 20 years ago. His skill and lightning pace earned him the nickname 'the Welsh Wizard'.

The most decorated player in English football, he has enjoyed an extraordinarily long career. His reputation has been burnished by an apparently settled home life that contrasted with the behaviour of some of his team-mates.

However, in April this year he learnt that a newspaper was threatening to expose allegations of an extra-marital affair with Imogen Thomas, the reality TV star.

Giggs, who has been married for four years, went straight to the High Court, where he got an injunction.

Under the terms of the order, in which he was referred to only as CTB, the media were banned from revealing his name, age, nationality, playing position and address.

Newspapers and broadcasters were even barred from disclosing the number of titles he had won. However, they could identify Ms Thomas and details of the affair.

The injunction resulted in an explosion of publicity. The fact that Giggs had taken out the injunction soon leaked on to the internet. On social networking websites, which are outside the jurisdiction of British courts, the news went viral.

Earlier this month, a Twitter user named Giggs along with a host of other celebrities who had allegedly taken out injunctions.

More than 100,000 people subscribed to the account, forwarding the list to an estimated two million people. Giggs's identity was now an open secret on the internet but the courts refused to lift the order.

During an appeal a fortnight ago, Ms Thomas was accused of trying to blackmail Giggs for £100,000 (€115,000). She denied the accusation.

Giggs appears undeterred by the negative publicity. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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