Northern Ireland

Dana to receive six-figure sum after Sunday World settles libel case

Dana Rosemary Scallon
Image caption Dana Rosemary Scallon speaking to the media outside the High Court in Belfast

Eurovision winner Dana Rosemary Scallon will get a six-figure sum after a libel case against a newspaper was settled.

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 was unanimously acquitted of child sex abuse charges in 2014.

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.

She won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland in 1970 and has twice run for Irish president.

'Brutal attack'

Outside court, Ms Scallon, who grew up in Londonderry, 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, the judge was told the two sides had reached a resolution.

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

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Eurovision winner Dana Rosemary Scallon went into politics and twice ran for Irish president

"In a website publication of July 10, 2014, and on our Facebook pages, false allegations were made and published in respect of Dana Rosemary Scallon," a lawyer for the newspaper said.

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

"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."

'Falsely stated'

Accompanied by her brother as she left court, Ms Scallon stressed how 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."

According to the singer, publication of the 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.

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

Ms Scallon's solicitor described the level of damages as "a substantial six-figure sum".

"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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