Irish News

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Louis Walsh settles 'grope' case

Published 28/11/2012 | 03:29

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X Factor judge Louis Walsh, centre, speaks to the media after his defamation case

X Factor judge Louis Walsh has said he will "never get over" The Sun newspaper's defamatory story that he sexually assaulted a man as he settled a lawsuit for 500,000 euro.

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The music promoter, who was falsely accused of groping a reveller in the toilet of a Dublin nightclub, said he would not wish what happened to him on his very worst enemy.

The out-of-court deal was reached after Walsh sued Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers over the June 23 2011 story with the headline "Louis Probed Over 'Sex Attack' on Man in Loo".

Walsh revealed he was gutted and traumatised that the allegation was published. "I'll never get over it," he said.

"Nothing can ever compensate me for the damage that was done to my reputation by The Sun and the trauma it caused to me, my family and close circle of friends."

Unemployed dance teacher Leonard Watters was jailed for six months in July for wrongly accusing Walsh of groping him in a celebrity Dublin nightclub after a Westlife concert in April 2011.

Flanked by his legal team on the steps of the Four Courts in Dublin, Walsh continued: "This has had a terrible effect on me, guys, because it was all lies. 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. And the story did start with The Irish Sun."

The 500,000 euro payout was agreed before the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, the day before Lord Justice Leveson's report on media standards and ethics is published. The settlement will also see The Sun pay Walsh's legal fees, which are an estimated 175,000 euro.

The paper previously accepted the accusation was false but initially denied defamation, saying that it had acted fairly as the story was based on police inquiries into the allegation.

Eoin McCullough, senior counsel for News Group Newspapers, read a statement to the court apologising to Walsh. "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," said Mr McCullough.

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