Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Louis Walsh settles 'grope' case

X Factor judge Louis Walsh, centre, speaks to the media after his defamation case

X Factor judge Louis Walsh has settled a 500,000 euro (£403,500) defamation action against News Group Newspapers in Ireland.

The out-of-court deal was reached after the music mogul sued The Sun over a story last year based on a false allegation that he sexually assaulted a man in a Dublin night-spot.

Unemployed dance teacher Leonard Watters was jailed for six months in July for wrongly accusing Walsh of groping him in a celebrity nightclub after a Westlife concert in April 2011.

Eoin McCullough, senior counsel for News Group Newspapers, read a statement to the High Court in Dublin apologising to Walsh.

"The Sun published an article in its editions of 23 June 2011, in which we reported that Louis Walsh was being investigated in relation to a sexual assault on Leonard Watters," he said.

"In fact it transpired that Leonard Watters had made a false statement to An Garda Siochana, and he has since been convicted in relation to this matter.

"The Sun fully accepts that the alleged assault did not occur in the first place and Louis Walsh is entirely innocent of any such assault. The Sun unreservedly apologies to Louis Walsh for any distress caused to him as a result of our article."

Walsh took legal action against the Murdoch group for damages over the article published on June 23 2011 with the headline "Louis Probed Over 'Sex Attack' on Man in Loo".

The paper accepted the accusation was false but initially denied defamation, saying that it had acted fairly as the story was based on police inquiries in to the allegation.

Outside court, Walsh said he would not have wished what happened to him on his worst enemy: "I'm very relieved. This has had a terrible effect on me guys. It was all lies. And I'm very satisfied with this total vindication for me, but I remain very angry at the treatment I received at the hands of The Sun."

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