Giovanni Pernice is 'coming out fighting': Sources claim that Strictly star ... trends now

Giovanni Pernice is 'coming out fighting': Sources claim that Strictly star ... trends now

Sweetly cupping his brand new Pomeranian puppy in both hands, Giovanni Pernice almost managed to smile as he gazed down at the new addition to his family.

'Meet Roxy,' wrote the embattled Strictly dancer's girlfriend Molly Brown alongside the snap, which was taken this week.

But while that photo may be endearingly tender, emotions behind the scenes Chez Gio are running worryingly high. So much so that friends of Strictly's longest serving male professional dancer tell me his new pet has nothing short of 'saved him'.

The dancer has endured several distressing weeks which have seen Strictly, the BBC's 'jewel in the crown' of programming, and he, its most popular male dancer, enmeshed in controversy, accused of causing a female colleague to suffer PTSD and reducing others to tears.

'Giovanni has been spending all his time with Roxy. He just adores her,' one friend of the Italian tells me. 'He is going through a really tough time. The last couple of months have been very difficult for him.

'His entire world — his career, his livelihood — are hanging in the balance because of some vague claims against him. Roxy, has been a godsend.'

Former Strictly star Giovanni Pernice, 33, is pictured on his girlfriend's Instagram account holding their new Pomeranian puppy, Roxy

Former Strictly star Giovanni Pernice, 33, is pictured on his girlfriend's Instagram account holding their new Pomeranian puppy, Roxy

Molly Brown, 24, takes a snap of the couple while on holiday - when the news that the professional dancer would be leaving the glitzy BBC competition was announced

Molly Brown, 24, takes a snap of the couple while on holiday - when the news that the professional dancer would be leaving the glitzy BBC competition was announced

Indeed, so tense is the mood after Giovanni's most recent partner on Strictly, actress Amanda Abbington, and two other unnamed women last week instructed notoriously cutthroat lawyers Carter Ruck to commence action against him and the BBC, accusing the dancer of misconduct, that it looks as if Strictly could be submerged in its own MeToo-esque scandal.

An internal inquiry at the BBC is said to be underway after five women who have worked with Giovanni have, seemingly, turned against him.

Yet, much to the star's frustration, these women have either raised accusations relating to his manner and work ethic that are — says a friend of his — 'frankly opaque', or have damned him by keeping an evasive silence when asked if they support him.

Even more upsetting for the 33-year-old dancer, I can reveal, is that he has yet to be contacted by the BBC to give evidence to their inquiry. The only knowledge Giovanni has of any investigation is what he has read in newspapers.

Regardless, I am also told that Giovanni says he will fully co-operate with the inquiry, as well as launching his own legal fightback. Giovanni is now represented by attack dog law firm Schillings, a London-based legal company which has acted for stars such as JK Rowling, Johnny Depp and Ryan Giggs — and has vowed that, whatever it takes, he will not be cancelled. His name, he insists, will be cleared.

His dance partner during last year's series, actress Amanda Abbington, 52, claims to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following her time with Mr Pernice. Her recent legal action against the dancer has led one of his close sources to say: 'It feels like a witch hunt. It feels like he is on trial without a voice'

His dance partner during last year's series, actress Amanda Abbington, 52, claims to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following her time with Mr Pernice. Her recent legal action against the dancer has led one of his close sources to say: 'It feels like a witch hunt. It feels like he is on trial without a voice'

If or when he does so, sources say he will 'most certainly consider options' of potential action he could take against those who have attacked him.

And it is not just his accusers in his sights: those who know him tell me Giovanni's legal fightback also signals the start of a war against the BBC, whom he believes have treated him appallingly.

Friends say Giovanni robustly denies any wrongdoing and is said to be 'baffled' that the only specific accusation of 'misconduct' against him appears to be about him bruising 52-year-old Abbington's foot, which his lawyer says is 'an occupational hazard of dancing — professionally or at a wedding'.

'Gio is confident that the BBC will not find any examples of abusive or threatening behaviour,' says a source close to him.

'He has never shied away from the fact that he is a hard taskmaster. He is of the thinking that that is what you need to do to get to the top and he will always, always stand by that.

'It feels like a witch hunt. It feels like he is on trial without a voice.'

Ms Abbington left midway through the most recent series, citing mental health issues. She has since been joined by two other anonymous women in her legal pursuits against the Italian

Ms Abbington left midway through the most recent series, citing mental health issues. She has since been joined by two other anonymous women in her legal pursuits against the Italian

Indeed, it seems that Abbington — who claimed in January of this year to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after working with Giovanni — has been briefing The Sun newspaper. Yet no other details of

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