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Not such an Astral week for Van as he fails in new privacy injunction


PRIVACY: Singer Van Morrison and his wife Michelle Rocca Morrison are pictured with their children in Dalkey, Co Dublin.  Photo: Noel Gavin

PRIVACY: Singer Van Morrison and his wife Michelle Rocca Morrison are pictured with their children in Dalkey, Co Dublin. Photo: Noel Gavin

PRIVACY: Singer Van Morrison and his wife Michelle Rocca Morrison are pictured with their children in Dalkey, Co Dublin. Photo: Noel Gavin

THIS is a tale of two lives, four court cases, two women -- former beauty queen Michelle Rocca and Texan Gigi Lee -- and, of course, Van Morrison.

In a Belfast court last Friday, Van Morrison, Gigi Lee and X (a minor) were refused an injunction preventing the Sunday Independent writing about them "and in particular any article containing private information concerning (them)".

Although the hearing was held behind closed doors in Belfast, it is believed that Mr Justice Gillen told them that the terms of an earlier injunction granted to the trio against the News of the World and the News International group was sufficient to safeguard their privacy.

George Ivan Morrison or 'Van the Man' as he is known to millions of fans around the world is taciturn and secretive to the point of notoriety.

"I have made considerable efforts to protect my private life and I have refused to be interviewed about it, to comment on it publicly or to authorise others to do so, save in very limited circumstances when a bare minimum of information is required to prevent or minimise harm from repeated attempts of others to publish allegations about my private life," said Van in an affidavit presented in Belfast two weeks ago.

A proposed article, studied by the judge, included details about Van's home outside Belfast, its value, layout and furnishing together with the input into its management by Gigi Lee. It also referred to staff residing at the house, physical descriptions of a child involved in the case and various visitors to the house. There were also detailed descriptions of furnishings and decorations, and work carried out on it at the behest of Ms Lee.

But the story was never published after Van, Gigi and X (a minor) got an injunction preventing its publication.

Only one woman, Michelle Rocca, was able to coax Van Morrison unwillingly into the media spotlight. That was when her assault action against the late Cathal Ryan brought her to the High Court in Dublin.

And there by her side was Van Morrison, the new love light of her life, she the new muse for his music.

In Homburg hat and long Crombie coat, Van stood by his woman, braving press photographers and the media scrum that followed this sad-but-riveting spectacle.

The presence of the internationally known singer and the former Miss Ireland and Eurovision presenter Michelle added additional drama to that highly inflamed legal battle.

But afterwards Van retreated into the silence that has become his trademark. He hardly even speaks at concerts, but those who love him don't mind. His music and his words say everything they want to hear.

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Since then, Van and Michelle have lived between their lavish home in Dalkey, Co Dublin or their terraced Georgian home in Bath, that beacon of all things British.

Their two young children were born in Ireland and took their father's second name, as did Michelle.

As a couple, they were left to their privacy and their families, a privacy that was only interrupted by a series of unrelated events that have now brought them back into public notice.

One was the tragic suicide of Michelle's younger brother Patrick, which plunged the Rocca family and Michelle, in particular, back on the front pages. But the other intriguing mystery appeared on December 29, 2009, when to the astonishment of the entertainment world and his legions of fans, the official Van Morrison website announced the birth of Ivan George III to Van and his executive producer on his Astral Weeks tour, Gigi Lee of Texas. This was immediately denied and put down to the fact that the site had been "hacked".

As the intrigue grew, John Saunders, describing himself as a long standing "personal friend" of the singer and the well-respected European president of the public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, went on RTE's flagship radio News At One to vehemently dismiss the claim.

"He doesn't even know Gigi Lee," Mr Saunders declared with finality.

Mr Saunders also said that the claims made on the website were "completely and utterly without foundation", adding that Van was "very happily married to Michelle Morrison" and that he had asked his management team to carry out an "immediate investigation" into how the bogus announcement ended up on his website.

The move ended in an embarrassing climbdown by Mr Saunders when Van Morrison admitted that he did, in fact, know Ms Lee -- the woman momentarily alleged on his official website to have had his love child. It emerged that she had worked on his United States tour and they were directors of several publishing and music companies based in London.

Once again the spotlight was on Van, and he didn't like it. As a source said: "Van is famously paranoid about the media. He was always a bit odd in that way. When he had a child with Michelle, the occurrence was incredibly low-key. And something that was meant to be a joyous occasion was almost treated like a secret. I find it very hard to understand that."

On Saturday, September 11, before the Queen's Bench of the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland, a case was heard between Gigi Lee, Van Morrison and X (a minor) on the one hand, and News Group Newspapers Ltd, Sunday Newspapers Ltd, and Tony Maguire, defendants.

The plaintiffs in the case, Van, Gigi and X (a minor), got an injunction preventing the News of the World newspaper from running a story about them. The court order directed that "information whether photographic or otherwise of the nature set out in the . . . proposed article concerning the private lives or relationships of the plaintiffs" should not be published.

Suddenly, the whole Van and Gigi story took on a new lease of life.

And while Van is in the High Court in Belfast, Michelle Morrison is, in another court, about to resume her long-running and costly planning case with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council over what she claims is its failure to ensure her family's privacy by requiring her neighbours to screen their family home from hers with trees.

The case took three days in the High Court last June with Michelle Rocca Morrison, of Kilross House, Sorrento Road, Dalkey, claiming that the tress planted by her neighbours, Mary and Desmond Kavanagh, were not adequate to protect her privacy.

She was seeking leave to challenge the council's failure to enforce orders against the couple, who live at Mount Alverno and share a driveway with the Morrisons. The judge in the case, Michael Hanna, warned the parties involved that the case was going to cost someone "an awful lot of money".

But last Thursday, Michelle was given leave to bring a High Court judicial review against the council, with the Kavanaghs as notice parties. Michelle Rocca Morrison's complaint was described by the judge as "neither trivial nor tenuous".

Last week, Van Morrison was apparently in America, having just completed a number of shows in Las Vegas. In Belfast, his lawyers are keeping a watchful eye on his interests.

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