Monday, October 20, 2003

MORE COURT: So, Cheryl isn't spending the evening trying to settle down under scratchy blankets wearing knickers that belong to the queen, and she must be wondering quite where this all leaves her.

It was suggested to us early on during the trial that she'd taken a massive gamble - if she'd chosen to plead guilty to ABH, it's probable the racially aggravated charge would have been dropped and she'd not have been looking at a possible seven years inside. That she decided to go for the not guilty plea to both suggests that any sort of conviction was unacceptable, which might be worth considering while reading Polydor's words of support for her: "We are pleased Cheryl has been found not guilty of the main charge against her," a spokeswoman said. "In light of this decision, Cheryl's position in Girls Aloud is unaffected." So, the beating of a woman over lollipops isn't a problem for Polydor.

Which is kind of curious - this wasn't some tussle on a plane like Ian Brown had (bad, but airtravel's stresses do offer mitigating circumstances - and Brown had had a drink or two; remember Cheryl testified she'd not had that much to drink); here, a jury have accepted that Tweedy punched the crap out of a toilet attendant, and decided that both Tweedy and Nicola Roberts lied about what had happened under oath to try and wriggle out of it. The defence had managed to throw enough reasonable doubt on the race charges to get those rejected by the jury, but even while Max Clifford mutters that all this might give the band some hitherto missing "edge", you've got to wonder if Nestle, for example, are sucking a thoughtful tooth at the cash they've just pumped in to a promotion for their Box Tops For Education scheme with Cheryl and Nicola all over it. Because, Cheryl, while you've not been found guilty of being a racially motivated thug, you've still been found guilty of acting like a thug. It's hard to see how the current set-up of the band can really continue to function on the teenies circuit with a thug and her mate in the line-up - but equally, you can't see them shifting over to appeal to a So Solid market.

Of course, we're also a little surprised that Cheryl could beat a woman so badly she had a puffy eye for three weeks and yet manage to escape a custodial sentence, even while refusing to plead guilty and, as the judge observed, showing no remorse for what she'd done. Pete Doherty pinches an NME award and gets sent down for two months, even after an appeal and fessing up; Tweedy causes someone serious injury, refuses to admit her guilt and yet has a relatively light community sentence passed over to her. Curious that even in 2003, stuff is still considered more important than people, isn't it? If Cheryl had actually got away with the lolipops, she'd probably have got a harsher sentence for the theft.

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