Louis Walsh settles libel case for £400k
X Factor judge Louis Walsh has been awarded £403,500 in a defamation case against News Group Newspapers over their coverage of a false sexual assault allegation.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
The publisher decided to settle out of court and has agreed to pay damages of €500,000, together with his legal costs.
Unemployed dance teacher Leonard Watters was jailed for six months in July for wrongly accusing Walsh of groping him in the celebrity nightclub Krystle after a Westlife concert in April last year.
Walsh took legal action against the Rupert Murdoch-owned group over its coverage of Garda inquiries into the allegations.
He sued for damages, over an article published on June 23 2011.
Outside court, the music manager said he was "relieved".
"This has had a terrible effect on me guys. It was all lies," he said.
I'm very satisfied with this total vindication for me, but I remain very angry at the treatment I received at the hands of The Sun.
Walsh's lawyer, Paul Tweed released a statement following the ruling, saying the "headline story should never have been published".
"Although the person who fabricated the story has since been convicted in the criminal courts, this is a prime example of the serious damage that can be inflicted on an individual, whether they are well-known or not, by the publication of totally unfounded allegations which, in the age of the internet, can circumnavigate the globe in a matter of seconds," the statement read.
"The serious consequences of worldwide dissemination online of a defamatory story is a fundamental problem which Lord Leveson's Report, to be published tomorrow in the UK, will hopefully address on the principle that prevention is always better than cure."
Eoin McCullough, senior counsel for News Group Newspapers, read a statement to the High Court in Dublin apologising to Walsh.
"The Sun published an article in its editions of 23 June 2011, in which we reported that Louis Walsh was being investigated in relation to a sexual assault on Leonard Watters," he said.
"In fact it transpired that Leonard Watters had made a false statement to An Garda Siochana, and he has since been convicted in relation to this matter.
"The Sun fully accepts that the alleged assault did not occur in the first place and Louis Walsh is entirely innocent of any such assault.
"The Sun unreservedly apologies to Louis Walsh for any distress caused to him as a result of our article."
Watters, a 25-year-old father-of-two, alleged he had been sexually assaulted by Walsh in a toilet at the club.
But within days, investigators showed Watters CCTV footage from the club that disputed his claims.
He then admitted he had made up the allegation and apologised to Louis Walsh.