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Niece's threat to sue Dana in row over sex abuse claims

STRUGGLING Presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon and TV3 have been threatened with legal action by her niece and sister.

The singer has been warned that she may be sued for denying claims her brother John Brown sexually abused her niece, Susan Gorrell.

Both Dana and the broadcaster face libel proceedings over the presidential hopeful's insistence on Friday that Susan Gorrell's claims of abuse are "false" and "malicious".

The Aras hopeful did not respond to queries from the Herald today, while TV3 was also unavailable for comment.

Letters were issued to both by Belfast-based solicitor Paul Tweed.

The former MEP's bid for the Aras has been dogged by controversy, including claims that somebody may have been trying to kill her. Tyre experts now say that a late-night blowout on her car was most likely caused by a simple puncture.

TV3 aired the one-on-one interview with Ursula Halligan on Friday -- during which Dana denounced allegations made during a 2008 court case that her brother John Brown (57) had molested Ms Gorrell (45).

Ms Gorrell alleges that her uncle Mr Brown -- who has been involved in Dana's campaign -- abused her on a number of occasions when she was aged five to 13.

And Mr Tweed revealed that legal action may be taken against Dana and TV3.

"My clients are completely bemused as to why this extremely distressing issue has been raised at this time.

"I have been instructed by Susan Gorrell and Susan Stein, the niece and sister respectively of Dana Rosemary Scallon, to put both TV3 and Ms Scallon on notice of our intention to issue libel proceedings unless totally unfounded and highly defamatory allegations made during the course of a broadcast on October 14 are retracted immediately."

Just two hours before TV3 broadcast the interview, US lawyers representing Ms Gorrell sent a warning to the broadcaster stating that their client stood over the allegations and that legal action would be taken if the interview went ahead.

However the station took the decision to air the interview - and placed an extended version on the TV3 website.

Mr Brown has since removed himself from sister's campaign and is currently understood to be in London.

Dana and her spokeswoman were unavailable for comment when contacted by the Herald.