Thursday 19 September 2019

Dana gets six-figure damages payout in libel case settlement

Dana Rosemary Scallan: Singer was with brother as she left court
Dana Rosemary Scallan: Singer was with brother as she left court

Alan Erwin

Eurovision Song Contest winner and former politician Dana Rosemary Scallon is to receive a six-figure sum in damages to settle a newspaper libel action.

An apology was also read out at the High Court in Belfast yesterday on behalf of the 'Sunday World's publishers, Sunday Newspapers Ltd, over false claims connected to her brother John Brown.

In 2014, Mr Brown was unanimously acquitted of historic child sex abuse charges.

Ms Scallon sued after an online report on sundayworld.com, which wrongly alleged she had given evidence at her brother's trial about steps taken in relation to him. Those claims were completely without any foundation.

"The story was a direct and brutal attack on all that I believe and value, and on my good name, my integrity, my character and my public and private life," Ms Scallon said, outside the court. "This false reporting told readers that I had lived a lie."

A jury was set to be sworn in for a defamation trial.

But instead, following discussions, Mr Justice Maguire was told the two sides had reached a resolution.

As part of the settlement, counsel for the newspaper read out a statement confirming an undisclosed payout was to be made to the singer.

Ms Scallon first achieved fame after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970 with 'All Kinds Of Everything'.

Born in London to a Northern Irish family, she went into politics in 1997 and served as an MEP for Connacht-Ulster.

She also stood as an independent candidate in two presidential elections.

Accompanied by her brother as she left court, she said: "What happened to me can happen to anyone.

"For that reason I decided, for the first time, not to let the untrue word stand unchallenged. In doing those I echo the same stance taken by Sir Cliff Richard, Louis Walsh and others."

Brett Lockhart QC said: "In a sundayworld.com website publication of July 10, 2014, and on our Facebook pages, false allegations were made and published in respect of Dana Rosemary Scallon.

"These groundless allegations defamed Dana Rosemary Scallon and reflected very badly on her character, good name and reputation."

Mr Lockhart continued: "We unreservedly withdraw these allegations and have agreed to pay to Dana Rosemary Scallon a six-figure sum in damages and her legal costs.

"We wish to apologise sincerely to Dana Rosemary Scallon for the distress and harm caused to her family."

Irish Independent

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