Cheers resounded not just in the public gallery at Teesside Crown Court but around the nation as former England football hero Paul Gascoigne was cleared by a jury of sexually assaulting a woman on a train after ‘innocently’ kissing her to make her feel better.
In a world of #MeToo madness where any contact between a man and a woman is viewed as an act deserving of incarceration, I too thought ‘Hurrah! Sanity at last’.
The next wannabe seeking her place in social media’s hall of fame by pressing charges of sexual assault, especially against a national treasure like Gazza after a friendly kiss, would surely think again.
Former England football hero Paul Gascoigne was cleared by a jury of sexually assaulting a woman on a train after ‘innocently’ kissing her to make her feel better. Pictured leaving Teesside Crown Court
Then, reading the court papers, I thought again. Gazza said he kissed the woman, who can’t be named, to boost her confidence after a passenger called her fat and ugly.
She claimed he was steaming drunk and drooling, that he tried to sit on her, then grabbed her by the cheeks and kissed her ‘forcefully and sloppily’ for two to three seconds on the lips in full public view, though he had never met her.
Even if we take his word for it that he wasn’t drunk — he explained that he was slurring and dribbling only because he didn’t have his dentures in — the kiss was an outrageous invasion of the poor woman’s privacy. And utterly disgusting.
As for his defence that he kissed people all the time through sheer exuberance, why should that make her feel any better?
His lawyers were bent on proving his kiss had no sexual intent. So what? She was publicly humiliated.
I’m not sure I go along with the howls from feminists who claim the verdict was a ‘green light for gropers’. And with rape case convictions down by 26 per cent in the past year, our courts clearly have more pressing issues of sexual abuse to deal with.
But I am sickened by those pictures of a gleeful Gazza leaving court, arms artfully draped around his attractive female manager as if he could never upset any woman. This is a man whose ex-wife Sheryl complained of years of mental and physical abuse and claimed he once headbutted her.
And I can’t help feeling that the poor woman who complained about his hideous attention on the train has been short-changed of justice.
What a woeful specimen Gazza is.
Farewell to an everyday hero
How overwhelming for PC Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie when more than 800 people attended his memorial service at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. He was killed responding to the burglary of a quad bike.
Mrs Harper recalled their last trip together to their favourite place in Cornwall, eating fish and chips on the beach.
It was a reminder, should we ever need one, of the selfless risks men like her own ‘fierce and loving protector Andrew’ run for us all, every day.
Homework before catwalks
Explaining her decision to take her eight-year-old daughter Sophia to do her first fashion shoot with mum, the model Abbey Clancy says: ‘You’ve got to do what you love. If she wants to be a vet . . . doctor . . . I just want her to be happy.’
Not much chance of a career as a doctor if she’s taken away from her studies for shoots and having her head turned by ideas of life as a model.
Abbey Clancy and daughter Sophia Ruby Crouch on ITV’s Lorraine explaining her decision to take her eight-year-old to do her first fashion shoot with her
Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton, whose car does six miles to the gallon, implores us all to give up meat to save the planet. ‘Extinction of our race is becoming more and more likely as we overuse our resources,’ he says. OK. I’ll give up steaks when he fuels his 200mph Mercedes on carrot and kale juice.
The Duchess of York was presented with two double-decker cakes at a charity event that coincided with her 60th birthday. A bit pointed, given Fergie’s struggle with her sweet tooth. Or did they think they’d need one cake for her and one for the other guests?
Strictly supremo Shirley Ballas has had death threats after agreeing with fellow judges to vote off a celebrity we’ve never heard of — Radio 1 DJ Dev Griffin — last week.
When will viewers realise that now the show can’t attract any celebs, the real stars are the dancers: AJ, Amy, Anton, Gorka.
And never would they have booted out their prize asset Aljaz Skorjanec, the finest example of manhood ever to come out of Slovenia, even if his partner Emma Weymouth was less graceful than a one-legged duck out of water.
Stop whining and be like Wills, Harry
In an ITV documentary tomorrow night, Prince Harry reveals the ‘pain’ he endures conducting his royal duties. Walking in his mother Diana’s footsteps in Africa was like reopening ‘a wound that festers’.
He added: ‘Being part of this family, in this role . . . every time I see a camera . . . it takes me straight back, so it’s the worst reminder of her life as opposed to the best.’
While we all sympathise over his loss, compassion for Harry is fast fading because of his whining.
Prince William and Kate, by contrast, after visiting a children’s cancer hospital in Pakistan that Diana helped to fund, then a mosque, were told by honorary consul Fakir Aijazuddin: ‘If there’s one word to describe your visit it is “joy”. You have radiated joy wherever you have been.’ A lesson, perhaps, for his little brother.
Former One Direction heart-throb Harry Styles, once tipped as the next Mick Jagger but now with his star fading into a black hole, has cryogenically frozen his entire wardrobe. Did he mistakenly put his career in the deep-freeze too?
Former One Direction star Harry Styles arriving for the 2019 Met Gala, who has cryogenically frozen his entire wardrobe
Jennifer Aniston apologised for ‘breaking’ Instagram when she launched her first account with a picture of her and the other actors from Friends.
In doing so she became the fastest person to reach a million followers, in five hours, 16 minutes.
All Rachel’s original Friends were in the picture — Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Ross — which says something rather marvellous about megastar Jennifer and her capacity for enduring . . . friendship.
Friends reunited! Jennifer Aniston (centre) brings together all five of her co-stars from the hit show. She posed alongside Courteney Cox (far left), Lisa Kudrow (left), Matt LeBlanc (middle back), Matthew Perry (right) and David Schwimmer (far right)
Not for the first time, Royal Mail workers are threatening to strike in the run-up to Christmas, handing over their most profitable period to cheaper services and forcing us reluctantly to send Yuletide greetings by email. For those of us who still love sending and receiving Christmas cards, it’s like Santa’s reindeer going on strike.
- As the dust settles after Boris’s Braveheart moment and he revels in the backslapping from EU leaders, spare a thought for the two women on whose shoulders he climbed to get there — Theresa May and his wife Marina.
- Odd that priority was given in the PM’s negotiations to removing VAT on tampons, to fulfil a referendum vow. I’d rather Boris had kept his oft-repeated promise to stop the hounding of our Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans.
- Boris compared his Brexit negotiations to The Shawshank Redemption, in which the hero swims through sewers to escape from prison. Let’s hope he wasn’t also seeing himself as Steve McQueen in The Great Escape — who was foiled just when he’d almost reached freedom.
- Standing in the way of Boris’s deal are DUP leader Arlene Foster, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, Lib Dem Jo Swinson, Change UK’s Anna Soubry and the Greens’ Caroline Lucas. He always did have a problem with women.
Friends star Jennifer Aniston attending the 21st Annual Critics’ Choice Awards, in Los Angeles in 2016