MP tells of furious wife's 'Queenie' jibe

Ashby libel case: Court hears men fled as 'all hell broke loose'
The feud between the MP David Ashby and his wife erupted again when she shouted "Queenie, queenie" at himself and an elderly male friend, the High Court was told yesterday.

Mr Ashby, who is suing the Sunday Times for libel over an allegation that he shared a double bed with a male friend during a holiday in Goa, said that after upsets in 1993, when he left his wife, Silvana, he desperately rebuilt bridges with her.

The couple even spent a pleasant Christmas together in 1994 with their daughter, Alexandra, 27.

But the peace was shattered when Mrs Ashby, 52, discovered her husband, the 55-year-old Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, and a friend, Edward O'Byrne, at his constituency home in Ravenstone at the end of June.

Mr Ashby was watching TV and Mr O'Byrne, a retired civil servant who had recently suffered a stroke, was dozing in a chair when Mrs Ashby drove up at speed in a cloud of dust.

She charged in, put her hand on her hip and said: "So you are fucking older men now, are you?", Mr Ashby told Mr Justice Morland and the jury. He said he tried to introduce his wife to Mr O'Byrne but she ignored him and shouted: "Queenie, queenie, so you are queenie."

She threw plates and kitchen knives at him, and he became worried that Mr O'Byrne might suffer another stroke.

The two men escaped to their separate rooms and locked themselves in while Mrs Ashby replaced the contents of her handbag, which Mr Ashby had emptied.

His wife then "stormed" up and down the landing, shouting obscenities about what they might be doing.

The next morning his wife threatened to kick him in the "bollocks" so that he could not have sex with anyone again, and pulled his glasses from his face, breaking them beyond repair.

He discovered she had taken his personal organiser from his briefcase and suspected she had also taken some important papers.

When he prised her hand open to get her bedroom key so he could search the room, "all hell broke loose" and she started kicking and scratching.

Later, although he was about 10 feet away from her, she started screaming "Help, help, he's beating me" and calling out for a neighbour.

Mr Ashby says the article about him in the Sunday Times in January 1994 alleged that he was a homosexual, who had misled Mrs Ashby about the nature of his sexuality; that he had lied to the public about having an affair with a Dr Ciaran Kilduff; and that he was a hypocrite in emphasising the importance of the family in his last election address. Times Newspapers Ltd and the former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil deny libel, although they accept that Mr Ashby did not holiday with a man in Goa. They assert he was and is carrying on an affair with Dr Kilduff.

The case continues.