Thursday 12 December 2019

Van Morrison letter on child claim

Van Morrison denied allegations that he fathered a child with his former tour manager
Van Morrison denied allegations that he fathered a child with his former tour manager

Van Morrison has written a letter to a public relations guru to set the record straight over the handling of allegations that he fathered a child with his former tour manager.

The publicity-shy musician was at the centre of a global media storm in Christmas 2009 after a statement was posted on his website announcing the birth of George Ivan Morrison III - Little Van, as he was known.

John Saunders, a top public relations figure in Dublin and across Europe, conducted a series of interviews on Morrison's behalf at the time to deny the reports or that he knew the mother Gigi Lee.

It subsequently emerged Ms Lee, from Fort Worth, Texas, worked as a manager on some of Morrison's tours.

Mr Saunders took proceedings against the Belfast-born singer in 2012.

At a brief hearing in the High Court in Dublin, lawyers confirmed a settlement had been reached between Morrison and Mr Saunders over public statements released in the wake of the baby's birth being announced.

John Kerr, junior counsel for Mr Saunders, told the court that the two sides had reached an agreement over fallout from the allegations.

"On terms that include a letter that the plaintiff John Saunders acted with integrity and on the express instructions of the defendant Van Morrison," Mr Kerr told the court.

Undisclosed damages and legal costs have also been agreed, the High Court heard.

Mr Saunders' solicitor Paul Tweed said his client was happy with the outcome.

"John Saunders has no further comment to make other than to say that he is satisfied that the record has now been set straight with what has been a vindication of his stated position," Mr Tweed said.

The letter from Morrison to Mr Saunders is not being published.

Tragically, 44-year-old Ms Lee and her son George Ivan Morrison III - named Little Van on the mystery internet posting - died within 10 months of each other.

The tour manager suffered throat cancer and died in the Marie Curie hospice in Belfast in October 2011.

Her son had died aged 13 months the previous January after reportedly suffering a diabetic coma while living in Texas.

Morrison, 69, who is married to former Miss Ireland Michele Rocca and has two children with her, has always denied being the boy's father.

The mystery internet posting on the singer's website on December 29, 2009 announcing the birth of Little Van was quickly removed at the time and declared a hoax by Morrison.

Mr Saunders, regional president of Europe, Middle East, Africa for the public relations giant FleishmanHillard, spoke on Morrison's behalf at the time.

Morrison, whose biggest hits include Brown Eyed Girl and Moondance, has enjoyed worldwide success in a music career spanning more than 45 years.

PA Media

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