It was the moment Ryan Giggs broke down in tears and wept openly in the witness box.
The former Manchester United player was being asked to recall the night when he was arrested for allegedly headbutting Kate Greville, his then girlfriend.
“I was scared,” said Giggs. “I’d never been in that position before.”
But it was when he was asked to recall spending the night in a cell at Pendleton police station that Giggs started to cry and the proceedings were briefly delayed to let him control his emotions. That night, said Giggs, was the “worst experience of my life.”
These were dramatic moments on the eighth day of Giggs’ trial and it was not long afterwards that Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, began his cross-examination of the former Wales national team manager.
The reality, said Wright, was that “there is a very different side to Ryan Giggs … there’s the Ryan Giggs the public know and the Ryan Giggs that you know.”
In a series of extraordinary exchanges, Giggs was asked whether he would describe himself as hotheaded, impetuous, deceitful and self-centred, as well as being prone to jealousy and gaslighting his partner when she confronted him about his behaviour.
He admitted that he was hotheaded on occasions, though denied the rest, and said Wright was correct to say it often stemmed from “the parts of your life you keep deeply buried away from the public.”
“You thought, as far as your private life is concerned, you could get away with it, do whatever you wanted, until the evening when the police arrived,” Wright said. “That’s the truth, isn’t it? Until the woman you had controlled and coerced for years stood up to you.”
Giggs, 48, is accused of head butting Greville, a PR executive, when she tried to break off their relationship in November 2020 and another charge of elbowing her younger sister, Emma, in the jaw during the same incident. Giggs is also accused of controlling and coercive behaviour towards his partner over a three-year period. He denies the charges.
What did Giggs say about the alleged headbutt?
Chris Daw QC, defending Giggs, asked him straight. “Did you, at any stage, put your hands on Kate’s shoulders and forcibly and deliberately headbutt her in the face?”
Giggs replied from the witness box. “No, I didn’t.”
Yet Wright put it to him that the truth was “as you have done many times in your life, you have flipped and that, in your personal life, you had the capacity to flip. As quickly as you flipped, (you had the capacity) to regain your composure.”
Giggs’ account was that he had “stupidly” taken Greville’s phone during a row at his house in Worsley, Greater Manchester, and put it into his trouser pocket, in what he described as tit-for-tat because he suspected she had previously done the same to him.
He told the court he had previously tried to snatch her phone out of Greville’s hand and, in his words, they “slipped on the shopping bags” on the floor. Giggs said he ended up on top of his then girlfriend. “Kate then proceeded to kick me in the head … six or seven times,” he told the court. “I was just protecting my head.”
According to Giggs, the next incident began when Greville grabbed his wrist, trying to pull his hand out of his pocket to reach her phone, and the arguing couple went all the way around a kitchen island in this position.
“The tugging got a little more aggressive,” said Giggs. “It got more and more aggressive. We were facing each other, it was sort of a tug-of-war and then we clashed heads. It happened really quickly. The tugging got more aggressive and (in the clash of heads) I felt my lips against hers. I could quite clearly see she was hurt. She just sort of fell backwards.”
The court was told this was the moment when Emma rang the police to report the alleged headbutt.
“I could see the mood had changed and they (the two sisters) were accusing me of something I hadn’t done,” said Giggs. “I was confused and scared because it now looks like a situation that was completely different (to what happened). I was scared.”
What else did the court hear?
A text message was read out from Giggs telling Greville: “I will stalk you like mad and you know how good I am at that.”
Giggs admitted the text related to turning up at her apartment unannounced or waiting outside her gym.
“You would play with her emotions, wouldn’t you?” said Wright.
“Yes,” Giggs replied.
“Were you stalking her on social media,” Wright repeatedly asked.
“I don’t know,” came the reply.
As other texts and emails were read out, Wright put it to Giggs that his treatment of Greville was “all part of a game, playing with her emotions, gaslighting her, bending her to your will” as well as “seeking to don the mantle of victimhood.”
One email to Greville’s work account, all in capital letters, accused her of dating somebody else and read: “IF YOU ARE, YOU’RE FINISHED. END OF. AND I MEAN TONIGHT.”
A follow-up message read: “Now. Hurry the fuck up. I’m fucking serious.” Giggs, who part-owned the company where Greville worked, accepted his behaviour looked like bullying and threats and said he was jealous.
What about the alleged headbutt?
On the night in question, Giggs said he had no idea Greville was planning to leave him until he followed her back to his house from a night out in Manchester and found her packing her stuff into a car.
Greville had previously told the court that she had looked through his iPad and discovered him having eight affairs. Giggs, who admits he has never been faithful in his relationships, said Greville would often accuse him of cheating – and that it was often, though not always, justified.
“Kate confronted me, shoved my phone in front of my face and it had an email with a girl’s name at the top. She was angry and wanted an explanation about who this woman was.”
The email, according to Giggs, was from six years earlier and there was an innocent explanation that it was a former work colleague. “She (Greville) then said, ‘What have you go to say about this?’ and shoved another message in front of my face. It was a picture of a dress I had bought a girl she had previously accused me of being with.”
Another argument took place at a Christmas party, arranged by Giggs’ agent, in which he invited Greville to a day of activities in London, starting with a game of mini-golf, then a trip to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and finishing at a nightclub.
When it came to selecting partners for mini-golf, Giggs said that he was put with an “attractive” sports presenter and Greville was unhappy about it. He swapped to be with Greville but later in the day, according to Giggs, she wrongly accused him of flirting with the presenter.
Giggs stormed off and walked to the nightclub where, he says, the rest of the group arrived later. He was sitting close to the dance floor and recalled the scene.
“I had a clear view of Kate and one of the male sports presenters. They were dancing together, holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. I couldn’t believe it. I said to my agent, ‘I’m going’, got in a taxi and went back to the hotel.”
This was the night when Greville alleges that he threw a laptop bag at her, leaving her with a “massive lump on my head”, after she returned to their suite at the Stafford hotel. Giggs told the court this never happened.
Were other text messages and emails read out?
Giggs said he could not explain what he meant by an email to Greville reading, “I’m so fucking mad right now I’m scaring myself. I could do anything right now.”
The 13-time Premier League champion went on to say that he considered living with Greville during the COVID-19 lockdown “a happy time” rather than, as she described it, a “living hell.” He said it was untrue that he was unsupportive of Greville’s career and had no control over her relationships with friends or family, her travel arrangements, finances or socialising.
He was asked, however, about another occasion when the couple had fallen out and he sent Greville an email with the header: “C***!!!”. He called her “a horrible, horrible c***” and, using the name of his ex-wife, added: “Same as Stacey, exactly the same.”
His email continues: “You don’t deserve to be a parent. I hope your company fails too. Will only tell people what a horrible c*** you are. Keep hiding behind anxiety too … evil horrible c***.”
Giggs told the court he was “upset and angry” because of a previous argument, but that he did not use this swearword regularly when he was addressing Greville. “I can’t believe I would use that sort of language to someone I was supposedly in love with.”
“You say some truly appalling things on these emails, don’t you?” Daw asked him.
“I do … no excuse whatsoever.”
On another occasion, Greville accused him of cheating and, arguing online, called him a liar, a cheat, aggressive, manipulative, narcissistic and violent. “Give the therapist a call, Kate,” read Giggs’ response. “I don’t run off crying to my friends like you do. I don’t give a fuck about your feelings.”
“Is that the Ryan Giggs we don’t see in the public eye?” Wright asked him.
“Yes,” came the reply.
Did Giggs mention his football career?
Only briefly when Daw asked him, early in his evidence, about his time as the most decorated player in United’s history.
“You played over 1,000 professional football matches over a 24-year period,” said Daw. “How many times were you sent off?”
“Once,” Giggs replied, “for Wales.”
Daw asked whether this was for an act of violent behaviour and Giggs replied that, no, it was for receiving two yellow cards in the same match.
“Were you ever subjected to abuse, being wound up, by fans?” Giggs was asked.
“Every week” he said. “That’s part and parcel of being a footballer.”
Opening his cross-examination, Wright put it to Giggs that there was “a world of difference between the way someone behaves in their personal life and the way they behave in their professional life.”
What about the dishwasher?
This has been another running theme of the trial.
Greville has alleged that she was treated like “a slave” and that her boyfriend would berate and humiliate her because of the way she loaded the dishwasher.
When this was put to Giggs, he admitted that the dishwasher was the source of many issues and mentioned that his daughter, Libby, and her boyfriend, Jacob, were also staying with the couple during lockdown.
“We would get up, make juices, me and Kate. Two hours later, Jacob would get up. He would be cooking. The dishwasher would be on three or four cycles a day. I would be opening the dishwashers and the glasses and tablespoons would be the wrong way round. It used to wind me up. I would call a team meeting – it was not just Kate but everyone. I would say, ‘Listen, can you please put the tablespoons the right way round?’ It wasn’t a big argument, it was just how I explained it.”
Giggs was asked whether he really called it a team meeting.
“Yes,” said Giggs, and for the first time he was laughing. “Because after a time I’d be, ‘That’s enough, I’m sick of it’, filling up the dishwasher 24-7.”
The trial at Manchester crown court will continue on Wednesday.
(Top photo: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)