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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
'Invincible' Christine at Neil's side
Christine and Neil Hamilton: Married during election campaign
The press has labelled Christine Hamilton a battleaxe, a dragon and a lioness, but to her friends she is "Rose Invincible".

The nickname comes from the rose - a tribute to the Falklands Task Force - which the Hamiltons used as a buttonhole on their wedding day in 1983.

She was forced to draw on considerable reserves during her husband's High Court case in which Mr Hamilton accused Mohamed Al Fayed of libel.

The Harrods owner said her husband took cash for asking questions in the House of Commons.

All I did was stand up for my husband and the truth

Christine Hamilton
Although she broke down and sobbed in the witness box during the trial, Mrs Hamilton has otherwise publicly betrayed none of the anguish and emotion that she must have endured during the court case.

She has been her husband's full-time secretary, adviser and comforter - aggressively loyal and always at his side.

Her husband said after the High Court: "Without Christine's love and support I could not have fought this battle."

She is probably best remembered for her confrontation with Martin Bell, the former BBC war correspondent who unseated Mr Hamilton as MP for Tatton at the 1997 general election.

During the campaign, Hamilton and Christine famously "ambushed" Mr Bell, an independent, while he was being interviewed on TV.

She repeatedly challenged him to say whether he thought her husband was guilty of wrongdoing.

Martin Bell: Hustings showdown
She later said of the incident: "All I did was stand up for my husband and the truth.

"But if I'd known the pictures would go round the world, I would have tried to look more like Mrs Tory MP instead of wearing garish bright orange jeans from M&S and a multicoloured sweater, my hair only half-brushed."

Since Mr Hamilton lost the seat his wife has published a book on Great British Battleaxes.

The couple were married in Cornwall during the 1983 general election campaign, when Mr Hamilton was fighting Tatton for the first time.

"Our honeymoon will last the weekend and then it will be back to campaigning," she said.

A few days later her husband became an MP and embarked on a stormy political career.

In the early 1970s, the then Christine Holman - daughter of a doctor - worked as a secretary for Tory MP Wilfred Proudfoot.

She was allegedly "head-hunted" by the flamboyant Sir Gerald Nabarro, the wealthy Worcestershire Conservative MP who sported a spectacular handlebar moustache and a booming voice.

'We need money'

Later, she achieved some renown, being frequently photographed with Sir Gerald during his trial for dangerous driving at Winchester in 1972.

Throughout the trial, she clutched a piece of lucky white heather for him. Both hugged and wept when he was acquitted.

When Great British Battleaxes was published in 1997 - after the voters of Tatton gave her husband the thumbs down - Mrs Hamilton said: "We wanted something for the Christmas market... we need money now."

But there were still smiles. She appeared with Mr Hamilton on the BBC's satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You? The couple laughed as brown envelopes were passed to them as their "fee".

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