I was not the biggest swinger in town, says ex-footballer

Brian 'Spike' Nolan at the court in Cork yesterday

A former Kildare footballer who was described by the Sunday World as “the biggest swinger in town” started a defamation action against the newspaper yesterday.

Brian ‘Spike’ Nolan, aged 49, of Goatstown, Dublin, said he tried to take his own life because he was so devastated by the coverage. 

He said he never organised such parties and attended four of them because his partner was bisexual and had an interest in them.

He is suing for defamation and breach of privacy.

In his direct evidence, he told Jim O’Callaghan SC that after the end of his marriage, he fell in love with a woman who was interested in going to private parties as she was bisexual. 

He said: “I never organised any of them.”

“Were you ‘the biggest swinger in town’ as suggested by the Sunday World,” asked Mr O’Callaghan.

He replied: “No, I went to a number of parties, I didn’t like them, I got away from them.”

Mr Nolan said journalist Niall Donald approached him with a photographer outside his house on Saturday, July 7, 2012, saying the Sunday World had compromising photographs of him at swingers parties. Mr Nolan said he begged him not to print them.

“Why were you begging the Sunday World not to publish,” asked Mr O’Callaghan.

Mr Nolan said: “I did not want to be thrown out to the national media. It was no one else’s business only my own.”

Mr Donald rang later to say the newspaper was publishing. “I said, ‘This is wrong, this is wrong. Fuck ye. Print what ye like’,” said Mr Nolan.

The first articles appeared eight days later, on July 15, 2012. 

The first he heard of it was a friend ringing to say “Oh my God, Spike, you are all over this”, the court heard.

Mr Nolan said friends kept an eye on him over the following days. 

“I went to the pub and got drunk. I did not want to be around to be honest,” he said at the High Court in Cork.

Asked what he thought of the front-page headline ‘Ex-GAA star is the biggest swinger in town’, Mr Nolan said: “I was not the biggest swinger in town, it was as simple as that. I was invited to these parties. It looks [from coverage] like I was at it all my life.”

He also denied headlines suggesting he had organised swingers parties and wife-swap parties.

A picture of him appeared beside the almost bare buttocks of three women with a caption reading ‘Cheeky boy’, the court heard. 

Mr Nolan said he was told the parties were private and he never gave permission for photographs to be published anywhere.

He said pictures of him at a dinner party before Halloween showed him in a wig and corset — he said that was “just a bit of craic” after a few bottles of wine with friends. 

He rejected suggestions by the Sunday World that he liked dressing up as a woman. He said female friends at the party were trying to squeeze him into the corset as a joke.

As for organising swingers parties, he said: “I was invited to these parties. How can I organise them when I did not even know the people? It is wrong, I didn’t organise them.”

Mr Nolan said he did have a money-laundering conviction from 12 years ago from a time when he was selling his house and became involved with the wrong people. He said he did not know why the newspaper brought that up again after such a long time.

He said family did not want to see him, friends did not want to drink with him, the rugby club where he coached did not want him coaching.

He said he asked his solicitor to “please help and get this stopped”, when a second article appeared eight months later . 

“I took an overdose, I tried to kill myself. Yes, I did, yes,” he said.

Paul O’Higgins SC, also for Mr Nolan, said the plaintiff had had a distinguished sporting career, in particular as a member of the Kildare GAA team in the 1990s — he also later played rugby.

Mr O’Higgins said the plaintiff’s marriage ended and Mr Nolan had a relationship with a woman who was interested in various kinds of social life.

A recording of an interview by the journalist was played in court. 

Mr Nolan could be can be heard asking “I beg you please”. 

Mr O’Higgins said it had all the impact Mr Nolan said it would have.

The case continues.


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