Paul Gascoigne was arrested for an alleged assault after photographers scrambled to take his picture, a witness said today.
The alleged incident happened late last night outside Liverpool’s Hope Street Hotel after Gascoigne, 38, had attended a charity fundraiser for the alcohol and drugs support group Sharp Liverpool.
According to fellow guest Chris Difford, former guitarist and songwriter with the band Squeeze: “It just looked like firework night. There were so many cameras going off.
“It seemed more aggressive than usual.”
Difford and Gascoigne arrived at about 7pm and both left at around 11.30pm.
They took part in a raffle and helped to raise more than £5,000 but it had been a difficult day for the former England soccer star.
Just hours earlier the ex-Newcastle, Rangers and Spurs star had been sacked as manager of non-league Kettering Town amid hotly-contested claims that he was drunk on the job.
Difford said: “They were pushing and shoving and he did not want his photograph to be taken. The next thing I know, I can see one of the photographers has got blood on his face but at no point did he seem under the influence of alcohol or misbehaving in any way.”
Within 30 minutes, Gascoigne was under arrest.
He had posed for pictures for waiting photographers on arrival and did some press interviews, it was claimed.
Difford said: “Paul was more than reasonable.
“I think that most people who go out to a private affair and give time to charity should be left to privacy and not be hounded by people who had already been given photographs. It’s just the world we live in.
“It’s not been an easy week for Paul. He seems to have been let down by the football club he had been working for.”
Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, project manager of Sharp Liverpool, said: “There was no trouble at the event. The alleged incident obviously happened after he left the event on the way back to his hotel.”
She described him as having been “really supportive” throughout the evening, taking part in a question-and-answer session with football fans about his career and auctioning a 1991 World Cup replica T-shirt.
She said: “He had been fantastic but I would say that in the Q&A session he was a bit physically emotional.
“He talked about his history and was praised for his ability to show his emotions.”
The Sun reported that freelance photographer Steve Farrell made a complaint to police that he had been assaulted.
Mr Farrell said he needed treatment from paramedics for a cut eye after he followed Gascoigne in the street, along with several other photographers.
He told the newspaper: “I said to Gazza, ‘You don’t mind if we take your picture, do you?’. He walked over and made like he was going to shake my hand and said ‘No, but you don’t mind this, do you?’.
“Then he whacked me with a left hand. There was a cut above my eye and there was blood down the side of my face. It was a proper punch.
“His mates pulled him off – and the worst thing was, Gazza just started laughing hysterically. He seemed to think it was hilarious.”
A Merseyside Police spokesman said: “A 38-year-old man was arrested following reports of an alleged assault outside the Hope Street Hotel at around 11.30pm last night.
“He is currently in custody at a police station in the city and will be interviewed by detectives later today.”
Kettering Town chairman Imraan Ladak decided to remove Gascoigne as the club’s manager, accusing him of 37 alcohol-related incidents during his 39 days in charge.
He said Gascoigne was “under the influence of alcohol before, during and after several first-team games and training sessions”.
Gascoigne admitted drinking a double brandy before one game, but insisted he had been “stitched up”.
He pledged to join the team for their game at Alfreton tonight despite the appointment of a new manager, Kevin Wilson.
He said he would watch the action from behind the dugout, and fire instructions to the players.
He had earlier launched a bid to buy the club, insisting that its players and staff were behind him.
Ladak turned down his offer and urged Gascoigne to seek “professional medical assistance”.
Kettering fans reacted with dismay this morning to the soap opera-style turmoil engulfing the club.
Many were glad about the publicity and a small amount of glamour that Gascoigne brought.
But previous manager Wilson – now returned as Gazza’s replacement – was seen as having put in place the foundations for stability on the field.
Builder Dylan Archer, 35, said: “It is a soap opera. We have gone from ’we are going to rise’ to being a laughing stock again. It is a bit sad.
“He (Gascoigne) did not really endear himself to most people – a lot of people thought he was worse for wear a lot of the time.”
Plumber Steve Garrett, 53, said Gascoigne had angered many supporters by releasing fans’ favourite and club captain Jamie Paterson in one of his first acts as manager.
“I thought it would only be a matter of time,” he said.
“You hear different stories. One was that Gascoigne would not let Kevin Wilson into the changing rooms before his first game against Stevenage to give the lads a pep talk.”