21 OCTOBER 2003
Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy has been found guilty of assault after she drunkenly punched a female nightclub attendant. The 20-year-old star was cleared of racially aggravated assault, however, and escaped a custodial prison sentence.
Cheryl was ordered to complete 120 hours community service for her attack on Sophie Amogbokpa. She was also told to pay £500 compensation to her victim and £3,500 court costs.
The trial centred around an incident at the Drink nightclub in Guildford last January. Cheryl and her bandmate Nicola Roberts had gone to the club for a few drinks after a day in the recording studio. At one point the pair went to the lavatory together where they encountered 39-year-old Sophie, who was working as an attendant.
According to the victim, Cheryl became enraged when she asked her to pay for lollipops from a display. She claims the singer unleashed a tirade of abuse, including racial slurs, before punching her in the face.
Cheryl maintains that it was Sophie who started the trouble, and Nicola says she saw the attendant punch her bandmate twice before she hit back. The two performers admit they were drunk at the time of the altercation.
A spokesman for Polydor records has meanwhile stated that the conviction will not affect Cheryl's position in Girls Aloud. For her part, the singer said she was happy the charge of racism had been dismissed. "I am thankful that the jury have accepted that this incident had nothing to do with race," she said. "I am not racist and anyone who knows me knows that I would never say anything racist."