Defamation action against Van Morrison settled

PR executive says record now ‘set straight’ about radio interview given in 2009

Van Morrison: action settled on the basis of solicitor’s letter confirming PR executive John Saunders had ‘acted with integrity’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Van Morrison: action settled on the basis of solicitor’s letter confirming PR executive John Saunders had ‘acted with integrity’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A public relations executive has said the record has been “set straight” after a defamation action that centred on the handling of allegations that Van Morrison fathered a child with his former tour manager was settled.

The High Court action, taken by PR executive John Saunders, arose out of a radio interview Mr Saunders gave in December 2009 to deny claims that Morrison’s American manager Gigi Lee had given birth to the singer’s son.

Mr Saunders’s barrister John Kerr told Ms Justice Marie Baker the action had been settled and could be struck out. The settlement was on the basis of a solicitor’s letter confirming Mr Saunders “had acted with integrity and on the express instructions of Mr Morrison” (in giving the radio interview) and that there would be undisclosed damages and legal costs, the barrister said.

Media storm

Mr Saunders’s solicitor Paul Tweed said his client was satisfied that “the record has now been set straight and with what has been a total vindication of his stated position”. He said the letter was not being published.

Ms Lee and her son George Ivan Morrison III – named Little Van on the mystery internet posting – died within 10 months of each other. The tour manager suffered throat cancer and died in the Marie Curie hospice in Belfast in October 2011. Her son had died aged 13 months the previous January after reportedly suffering a diabetic coma while living in Texas.

Morrison (69), who is married to former Miss Ireland Michelle Rocca and has two children with her, has always denied being the boy’s father. The posting on the singer’s website on December 29th, 2009, announcing the birth, was quickly removed at the time and declared a hoax by Morrison.