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Sunday 18 August 2019

Now Porter may face garda probe in claim of hospital assault

Accused: Al Porter. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Accused: Al Porter. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Eilish O'Regan and Melanie Finn

A psychiatric hospital will pass on a complaint of inappropriate behaviour by comedian Al Porter to gardaí.

The under-fire comedian may now face a Garda investigation after a former patient of St Patrick's Mental Health Services made a formal complaint about his conduct. The incident allegedly occurred while the comedian was visiting the hospital in 2015.

A young man told a Sunday newspaper how he was chatting to Porter and said he was "all handsy". He said that the comedian put his hand on his crotch at least twice, outside his trousers. He pushed him away and alleges that Porter then kissed him on the lips. He said the incident was not witnessed by the other celebrity guests.

SPMHS issued a press release saying that it had received no complaint. However, this was amended last night when it confirmed that the service had since received a complaint.

Under current guidelines a psychiatric hospital is obliged in law to notify a "serious reportable incident" within 48 hours to the Mental Health Commission.

It is also obliged to report a formal complaint about an alleged sexual assault to gardaí.

The statement added that the organisation "is currently investigating the complaint in line with its policies and procedures".

A spokesperson said there would be no further statements on behalf of SPMHS until that investigation was completed. It also reiterated its policy with regards to guests visiting the facility on James Street.

The SPMHS said its official guidelines were designed to "ensure that there is no risk to the safety and security of service users, visiting celebrities and invited guests and staff arising from visits to the service by approved or invited visitors".

While Porter has not responded to individual complaints, he has apologised for any distress he may have caused.

"While my conduct, which had been in keeping with my flamboyant and outrageous public persona, may be regarded as offensive and unacceptable by many people, I at no time intended to upset anyone.

"Up until now, I had been unaware of these complaints or the impact of my conduct and I am truly sorry for any distress I may have caused in what I had regarded as light-hearted and good-natured circumstances."

Irish Independent

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