The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, has personally intervened to allow the terminally ill celebrity Jade Goody to spend her wedding night with her new husband.
Ms Goody, who has been diagnosed with cancer, faced the prospect of sleeping alone after her marriage tomorrow because her fiancé is on bail, having been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for assaulting a 16-year-old boy with a golf club.
The groom, Jack Tweed, had his appeal for an easing of bail conditions rejected on Thursday. Yesterday, however, Mr Straw ordered the Ministry of Justice to review the conditions after revealing he had “enormous sympathy” for 27-year-old Goody and admired her “extraordinary courage”. He later sanctioned an order allowing Tweed, 21, to stay at the reception venue until 3pm on Monday rather than return to his mother’s home by 7pm tomorrow.
“It is crucial that offenders are treated equally within the rules regardless of the publicity surrounding their case,” Mr Straw said, “but I was satisfied that it was reasonable to allow this.”
The development was the latest in an increasingly bizarre circus being played out before television cameras and the paparazzi. A publicity blitz will ensure Goody raises funds to safeguard the future of her children, Bobby, five, and Freddie, three. Her publicist, Max Clifford, said she was “absolutely thrilled” at Mr Straw’s decision, which will ensure “a dream finish to her dream day”.
Gordon Brown backed the decision, the Prime Minister saying during a constituency visit to Fife: “I think everybody is sad at the tragedy that has befallen Jade Goody. Everyone who suffers cancer has the thoughts of me and, I think, the whole country over what they’ve got to go through.”
A series of media deals look certain to raise Goody at least £1m. OK! bought exclusive pictures of the wedding for a fee of £700,000. The magazine will split its coverage over the next two issues, beginning on Tuesday. Living TV, which has a deal with Goody dating back to before her cancer was diagnosed, will broadcast footage of the wedding in a one-off documentary. The existing deal is thought to be worth around £200,000.
The former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has also brokered a television interview with Goody, which is likely to be incorporated into his new ITV chat show.
Three hundred guests will attend the £1.5m marriage ceremony at Down Hall, in Hatfield Heath, Hertfordshire, tomorrow evening. Ms Goody will wear a £3,500 dress designed by Manuel Mota and donated by Mohamed al-Fayed, delivered to the Royal Marsden hospital in Chelsea on Thursday. The dress includes a pouch for painkillers.
The ceremony will be conducted by Bishop Jonathan Blake, sources say, of the independent London-based Open Episcopal Church. He was in the news last week after being arrested for photographing his children on a rooftop. He took the pictures as part of a school challenge for pupils to be pictured in the most unusual place reading a book. The clergyman, who visited Jade and Jack at her home on Wednesday, is considering legal action against the police.
Ms Goody acquired fame as a vociferous contestant on the Channel 4 programme Big Brother in 2002. Last August, she appeared briefly on an Indian version of the show, only to be told live on air that she had cervical cancer. That cancer has now spread, apparently giving her weeks to live. Mr Clifford said yesterday a special foundation will be set up to oversee the education of Ms Goody’s children and that his client has been taking comfort in the Bible.