It was, the jury heard, a “litany of abuse, both physical and psychological, of a woman he professed to love.”
These were the moments when, according to the prosecution, it was “the real Ryan Giggs, not the public person” sitting in the dock, accused of being a domestic abuser, on the opening day of a trial that may involve Sir Alex Ferguson and some of the biggest names in manchester unitedis past.
The real Giggs, it was alleged, had a manipulative, sinister and sometimes violent side, and led a very different life from that of 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League final wins and four FA Cup 23-year triumphs as a player, superstar and storied player at Old Trafford.
The most decorated player in United history was facing a charge of using controlling and coercive behavior against Kate Greville, his ex-girlfriend, between August 2017 and November 2020. It was, the court was told, the “systematic and sometimes violent mistreatment of a woman… taking advantage of their vulnerabilities for their own gratification.”
Giggs is accused of assaulting Greville, causing him actual bodily harm, by headbutting him when he was trying to break up the relationship. He is also accused of assaulting her younger sister Emma, allegedly elbowing her in the jaw during the same incident.
Giggs denies any wrongdoing and claims that the sisters have “exaggerated and fabricated” the accusations against her.
So who is the real Ryan Giggs?
His legal team argued that he had never been in trouble with the police in his life and that, in reality, he was the victim of a lie.
However, the indictment describes him as a serial abuser with aggressive tendencies who threatened to send private photos of Greville to her employers and sickened her with “a seemingly endless cycle of emotional and, at times, physical abuse.”
“He is, as you may know, a former professional footballer of considerable reputation,” prosecutor Peter Wright QC told the jury at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court. “In his heyday, he played locally for Manchester United and internationally for Welsh. He was idolized, and still is, by his fans and supporters.
“On the field, her abilities were abundant and a beauty. Off the pitch, in the privacy of his personal life and his home, behind closed doors, there was a much uglier and more sinister side to his character.”
What was the scene on Monday?
At 8:30 am, the queue outside the pitch stretched some 60 meters towards Piccadilly Gardens.
The streetcars honked their horns to make sure the throngs of people on the pavement didn’t get in their way. Guests from the Holiday Inn hotel, across the street, gathered outside to see what was going on. And then, amid the snapping of camera lenses, Giggs emerged through the media scrum to be ushered into court, where he stands accused of “acts of violence and volatility” toward a woman 10 years his junior.
Minshull Street is an imposing Flemish Gothic building with timber-panelled courtrooms and a sense of history stretching back 150 years. Giggs was ushered into courtroom seven and took his place in a glass-enclosed center bench, flanked by a security guard, as a jury of seven women and five men took their oaths.
Each juror was asked if he knew Giggs or any of the other people who might be mentioned during the case.
Ferguson’s name was first mentioned, having been United manager when Giggs was establishing himself as one of the most glorified players of his generation. David Gill, former United chief executive, was also named, along with Gary Neville, the Sky Sports pundit and Giggs’ teammate from United’s famous youth academy product group dubbed the Class of ’92.
What are the key accusations?
In addition to the accusations of violence, Giggs is accused of:
- Subjecting Kate Greville to what she described as “constant bombardment.” Giggs repeatedly harassed her with abusive messages when she went out at night, often causing her pain and distress.
- One message had the header “blackmail.” Another said: “C***”. On one occasion, Giggs wrote to his girlfriend, “Only a horrible evil f***ing does that,” and followed up with, “I’m so f*cking mad right now I’m freaking out because I can do anything.”
- Throwing her and her belongings out of her house when she questioned him about his relationships with other women.
- Sending constant spam messages and making constant spam calls to her and her friends when trying to break up the relationship.
- Regularly showing up unannounced at his home, workplace, and gym after he tried to end their relationship.
Who testified and what did they say?
The prosecution opened the case alleging that Giggs had subjected his girlfriend to an abusive relationship for more than three years and that he was guilty of “deception” to cover up his guilt.
His text messages, according to Wright, offered “a ray of light on the real Ryan Giggs, sitting in the hot seat, not on the public figure.”
“This is the story of control and coercion of a woman who thought she was loved and respected; Unfortunately, the reality was very different,” Wright told the jury. “This was a manipulative, toxic and damaging relationship of a man with a vulnerable woman. It was a course of behavior that she was subject to and he was unable to change. It had become second nature to him.
“He sought to normalize this behavior as a product of a tense, passionate and loving relationship. It was nothing like that. It is (her defense of him) the subtle psychology of the gaslighter.”
Wright added: “She (Greville) described various events that took place over a number of years and how he harassed her on social media when she was out with friends. He was threatening to do various things unless she responded. He threatened to send personal images to friends and co-workers unless she did as he said. On one occasion, he physically threw her and her belongings away from the direction they were facing when she challenged him about (his other) relationships of hers.”
At other times, according to Wright, there would be acts of kindness on Giggs’s part, which the prosecution described as calculated to earn his forgiveness and maintain the relationship. Greville, he said, was “treated in a manner that cannot be excused or overlooked” either by the legal system or by Giggs fans.
Giggs, who officially resigned from his position as manager of the Wales national team after his classification in June for this winter World Cup Having been on leave since his arrest in November 2020, he was also said to have reacted badly when it became clear that his girlfriend wanted to “remove” herself from the relationship.
On their last night together, they went to the Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester with friends. Greville had decided to end the relationship because she “discovered, once again, that the defendant (Giggs) was cheating on her”.
That led to a heated argument at his house.
“In the ensuing altercation, he knocked her to the ground … she was trying to fight back and fight back,” Wright said. “They were struggling on the ground. Emma intervened and tried to pull the defendant off her sister. Because of her pain, the defendant, we say, deliberately elbowed her (Emma) in the jaw.”
In the kitchen, Giggs, who was awarded the 2007 OBE for services to football, is alleged to have “completely lost control of himself and deliberately head-butted Kate, causing her lips to swell and bruise and some of bleeding”.
What’s coming Tuesday?
This will be the moment for Kate Greville to present her testimony; she will be allowed to do so behind a screen, so that she does not have to face her alleged abuser.
The jury will also be shown video of his interview with police and footage of his injuries from the alleged head-butting incident.
Giggs says that the bleeding was caused by an accidental head butt and that the truth is that he had been the one attacked.
Chris Daw QC, representing Giggs, said the alleged head butt was “not just a nasty lie, but a ridiculous one”, telling the jury that photographic evidence would show that Greville had only a “tiny minor injury”.
Daw argued that a deliberate head butt by a former professional athlete would have caused serious damage to Greville’s face.
The reality, he added, is that Giggs is not the man played by his ex-girlfriend. He had encouraged her career ambitions as a public relations executive, supported her decision to move abroad, and given her a six-figure-paying job at her own company, GG, when she later returned. to Manchester.
Daw told the court that Giggs accepted that “his behavior on a moral level was, at times, far from perfect.”
This took the form, he said, of inappropriate language and being guilty of immaturity as “the pair acted like fighting children… like teenagers… they each played on the other’s insecurities.” They were frequently blocked on social media.
He told the jury: “No matter how boorish, nasty, even bad some of these arguments have become, on both sides, the defense’s case is that there is a line that Mr. Giggs would not cross.
“The physical attacks and violence, says the defense, are simply false.
“He never used illegal violence even once…the allegations are simply not true.”
(Top graphic — photo: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)