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Dana Rosemary Scallon settles defamation case against Sunday World

Eurovision winner alleged newspaper article claimed she covered-up child abuse

Eurovision Song Contest winner Dana Rosemary Scallon at Belfast High Court for her defamation action against the Sunday World newspaper. Photograph: Alan Lewis/Photopress Belfast

Eurovision Song Contest winner and former politician Dana Rosemary Scallon is to receive a six-figure sum in damages to settle a newspaper libel action.

An apology was also read out at the High Court in Belfast on behalf of the Sunday World’s publishers over false claims connected to her brother John Brown.

In 2014, Mr Brown was acquitted of historic child sex abuse charges.

Ms Scallon sued after an online report wrongly alleged she had given evidence at her brother’s trial about steps taken in relation to him. Those claims were without any foundation.

Outside court Ms Scallon, a former Irish presidential candidate, said she brought the lawsuit because the article falsely stated she had covered-up child abuse.

“The story was a direct and brutal attack on all that I believe and value, and on my good name, my integrity, my character and my public and private life,” she said. “This false reporting told readers that I had lived a lie”.

A jury was set to be sworn in for a defamation trial expected to last for up to three days. But instead, following discussions, Mr Justice Maguire was told the two sides had reached a resolution.

As part of the settlement, counsel for the newspaper read out a statement confirming an undisclosed pay-out is to be made to the singer.

Good name

Brett Lockhart QC said: “In a sundayworld.com website publication of July 10, 2014, and on our Facebook pages, false allegations were made and published in respect of Dana Rosemary Scallon.

“These groundless allegations defamed Dana Rosemary Scallon and reflected very badly on her character, good name and reputation.”

Mr Lockhart continued: “We unreservedly withdraw these allegations and have agreed to pay to Dana Rosemary Scallon a six-figure sum in damages and her legal costs.

“We wish to apologise sincerely to Dana Rosemary Scallon for the distress and harm caused to her family.”

Accompanied by her brother as she left court, Ms Scallon said she had never before taken legal action throughout a 50-year career in business, entertainment and politics.

“What happened to me can happen to anyone,” she added. “For that reason I decided, for the first time, not to let the untrue word stand unchallenged.

“In doing those I echo the same stance taken by Sir Cliff Richard, Louis Walsh and others.”

Untrue

According to the singer, publication of the untrue story was made worse by putting it on a Facebook page where the public could comment.

“Amongst other things, the Sunday World’s article and Facebook page explicitly and falsely stated that I engaged in a cover-up of child abuse,” she said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Those lies should never have been published.”

Ms Scallon’s solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW Law, described the level of damages as “substantial”.

He added: “Today’s resolution is a complete vindication of Dana’s reputation. It’s been a tough time for her.

“She’s just relieved to get such a fulsome apology and generous settlement terms, allowing her to move on with her life.”

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