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Irish dancing champ sues governing body in row linked to ‘explicit video’ claims

Man falsely accused of sending explicit video


Jamie Hodges is to sue the An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha

Jamie Hodges is to sue the An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha

Jamie Hodges is to sue the An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha

The governing body for competitive Irish dancing is being sued by a five-time world champion who claims he was blacklisted over false claims he sent an explicit video to underage girls.

Dance instructor Jamie Hodges initiated defamation proceedings against An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (CLRG), also known as the Irish Dancing Commission, at the High Court in Dublin last week.

It comes two months after Mr Hodges (32) began separate defamation proceedings in New York against a dancing teachers organisation and figures involved in Irish dancing in the US.

Both legal disputes have their roots in an email allegedly sent by a rival Irish dancing instructor in November 2019.

Bristol-based Mr Hodges, who runs the On The Move Irish dance company, says he had a lucrative business teaching children around the world and had been planning to run a summer camp in Pennsylvania last summer. But he claims his career and reputation have been destroyed as a result of a false allegation contained in the email.

In a US legal filing, Mr Hodges claimed Molly Lutwin, who runs the Francis Academy of Irish Dance in Syracuse, New York, alleged in an email that he or On The Move had sent an explicit video involving a naked woman to two girls aged under 14.

The two girls were said to have run an Irish dancing account on Instagram and agreed to upload a promotional On The Move video when they allegedly received the explicit video instead.

According to the filing, the camp had been approved by the Irish Dancing Teachers Association of North America, Mid-Atlantic Region. But the allegation was read out at a meeting of that association last year. Mr Hodges said parents then began withdrawing children from the camp and he was forced to cancel it.

He maintains no such video was ever sent and that the allegation was "outrageous" and "completely false". The Irish proceedings against the CLRG, seeking damages for defamation, were initiated last week. It is Mr Hodges's belief the CLRG did not adequately investigate the matter.

He has also taken issue with a letter from a CLRG official to Ms Lutwin, details of which were outlined in the US proceedings.

The letter stated CLRG's ethics committee could take steps to ensure camps run by On The Move are not approved by the governing body. It also stated the committee could "flag" the CLRG's exams authority should Mr Hodges or his brother Mitchell seek to be certified as affiliated dance teachers.

The CLRG did not respond to a request for comment.

However, it is understood the CLRG maintains the matter was not investigated because those involved with the camp were not registered as teachers with it. It is also understood it maintains the "flag" reference was made in the context of its rules, which require teachers participating in camps to be fully vetted.

According to Mr Hodges, he has been subject to background checks in the UK, where he lives, and is fully vetted to work with children.

Belfast Telegraph