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Dana loses her legal bid over defamation case costs

Published 01/12/2016

Allegations: Dana Scallon
Allegations: Dana Scallon

Dana Scallon has lost a legal bid to force her sister and niece to put up security for legal costs should they lose a defamation case they are taking against the Londonderry-born singer.

The Dublin High Court application arose out of a 2011 TV interview, during the Irish presidential campaign, when Dana was asked about allegations of sexual abuse made against her brother, John Brown.

Susan Stein and her daughter, Susan Gorrell, both living in the US, have taken separate High Court actions alleging Dana defamed them in the TV3 interview in October 2011.

Dana, they say, made statements suggesting both women made up claims Ms Gorrell was sexually abused between 1971-81 by her uncle, John Brown, who lived in England. They claim the allegations of abuse are true.

Subsequently, Ms Gorrell made a complaint to English police. Mr Brown (62), of Bracknell, Berkshire, was cleared in July 2014 of charges of indecent assault of two girls aged under 13 and 16 in Northern Ireland and England in the 1970s and 80s. He denied all the claims.

In the meantime, Ms Stein and Ms Gorrell brought defamation proceedings against Dana, who denied their claims. Dana then sought a security of costs order in advance of the trial. She claimed legal costs would amount to some €450,000 (£381,000) while the other side estimated them at €189,000 (£160,000).

The plaintiffs opposed the application, saying it would end their case if they had to put up that sort of money. They also obtained an insurance policy in England under which they were indemnified for legal costs if their case was not successful up to a limit of €150,000 each.

Dana's lawyers argued that the policy was so conditional it could not provide sufficient security for costs.

Mr Justice Robert Eagar rejected Dana's claim they should provide security. He also found there was a public value in litigating in a civil context claims involving sexual abuse allegations where proof beyond a reasonable doubt had not been established in a criminal trial.

Belfast Telegraph

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