Paul Gascoigne trial: Ex-footballer kissed woman on lips 'to protect her'
The former footballer is accused of sexual assault over a claim he planted a sloppy, drunken kiss on a fellow train passenger
By Gerard Tub and Tom Acres, Sky News
Last Updated: 15/10/19 10:26pm
Paul Gascoigne has said he kissed his alleged sexual assault victim on the lips because he wanted to "protect" her after hearing a fellow train passenger make fun of her weight.
The 52-year-old is accused of sexual assault over an incident on a CrossCountry train from York to Newcastle last year, when he is said to have planted a sloppy, drunken kiss on a woman in his carriage.
Giving evidence on day two of the trial at Teesside Crown Court, the former footballer told the jury someone on the train had called the woman "fat and ugly" and that he wanted to comfort her.
Gascoigne said his instinct was to "automatically protect" anyone who is teased about their weight, telling the court how he was called a "fat b******" when he was a player and that his children and nephews have also been called fat.
He said the insult towards the woman came after someone suggested she have "a selfie with Gazza", at which point he overheard someone say: "You don't want a photo with her, she's fat and ugly."
Gascoigne, who told the court he did not have his false teeth in at the time of the incident, added: "Automatically I went and sat next to her and said, 'look, you're not fat and ugly, you're beautiful inside'."
His voice broke as he described the "peck on the lips" to jurors.
Gascoigne, who denies a charge of sexual assault by touching, said he did not regard the kiss as sexual harassment.
In his police interview after his arrest, which was played in court, he told officers: "I get kissed all the time, so if that's the case I have been sexually harassed for 20 years."
When asked by the prosecution why he did not apologise to the woman in his police interview, the ex-Tottenham midfielder said she "didn't seem that bothered" and had told another passenger "she was fine".
The police interview came after he was arrested at the Jesmond Dene Hotel in Newcastle some hours after the incident on 20 August 2018.
British Transport Police officer Robert Moody told the court that Gascoigne was sat in the foyer in an "intoxicated, drunken state" and had a glass of beer in his hand.
Gascoigne said to officers he had only had "three or four cans" prior to the incident because spirits made him "spew up" following a recent operation.
He said in his interview "before the operation I could drink gin no problem", and told a custody sergeant: "All I was doing was trying to help a fat lass."
When asked by the prosecution why he had not challenged the person who supposedly insulted his alleged victim, the former Newcastle and Middlesbrough star said: "I do not think it was for me to challenge anybody.
"I'm not that way inclined."
Gascoigne agreed he was not "so drunk he didn't know what he was doing" at the time, and said any impression he was slurring his words was because he did not have his false teeth in.
He took the teeth out during his evidence and demonstrated how different his voice sounded without them in.
The jury was also given a series of photos described as showing Gascoigne kissing or being kissed by celebrities including the likes of Wayne Rooney, Russell Brand and Princess Diana.
The prosecution said none of the supplied images showed him kissing women in the way he kissed the complainant, to which Gascoigne interjected : "Not in these ones, no."
When told he had kissed the woman, who cannot be identified, "in circumstances that any reasonable person would describe as sexual", Gascoigne said: "There was no sexual intent."
After giving evidence, which took just under an hour, Gascoigne listened to a character reference provided by friend and former boxer Ricky Hatton.
The statement, read out by lawyer Michelle Heeley QC, described the "warm relationship" the two men shared after meeting at a charity event.
Hatton said Gascoigne was "larger than life" and a "lively, bubbly person" who would would often greet him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
He added: "That's the way it's always been. I have seen him approach other people, both male and female, in the way that he approaches me."
The trial continues.