X Factor's Louis Walsh settles Sun libel case for £430,000

Nov 28, 2012

Walsh 'entirely innocent' of false claim that he sexually assaulted man in Dublin nightclub

X FACTOR judge and former manager of Westlife, Louis Walsh, has settled his libel action against The Sun out of court for £430,000. The paper had published a story in June 2011 based on a false allegation that Walsh had sexually assaulted a man in a Dublin nightclub.

Walsh had been seeking aggravated and exemplary damages from News Group Newspapers (NGN) in the Irish high court over the story, which bore the headline 'Louis probed over 'sex attack' on man in loo', but said he was happy to settle out of court and receive an apology.

The man who made the claim, 24-year-old unemployed dance teacher Leonard Watters, was later sentenced to six months in prison for concocting the story in April 2011, The Guardian reports.

In the high court his morning, NGN's senior counsel read a full apology to Walsh, which admitted that: "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."

It went on: "The Sun unreservedly apologises to Louis Walsh for any distress caused to him as a result of our article." As well as the damages, NGN will also have to pay Walsh's legal fees, which amount to £145,000.

The Sun initially refused to accept its article defamed Walsh because it had been written "fairly", based on information about police inquiries into the assault allegation, though it admitted the assault claim was bogus.

Walsh told journalists outside the court that he was "relieved" and added: "I am ... absolutely gutted and traumatised that these allegations against me should have been published, particularly as I had made it clear at the time there was not one iota of truth in them."

Walsh's lawyer, Paul Tweed, said the story should never have been published and said he hoped Lord Leveson's report into media ethics, due out tomorrow, would take the principle that "prevention is better than cure".

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