X Factor judge Louis Walsh is seeking access to documents to support his claim The Sun newspaper allegedly offered to pay a man if he agreed to make what later turned out to be a false sexual assault accusation against the showbiz manager, the High Court heard yesterday.
The documents, it is also claimed, will show The Sun paid €700 to Leonard Watters and promised to make more payments to him before a journalist accompanied him to a Garda station where he made his false complaint against Mr Walsh, said Jim O’Callaghan, counsel for Mr Walsh.
“The Sun directed the operation to take out Louis Walsh as a public person,” said Mr O’Callaghan.
Last January, Watters, aged 24, from Navan, Co Meath, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to making two false reports to gardaí that Mr Walsh sexually assaulted him in a toilet in Dublin’s Krystle nightclub on Apr 9 last year.
Mr Walsh is suing Newsgroup Newspapers, publishers of The Sun, for defamation over an article it published on June 23 last. It accepts the accusation was false but denies defamation.
Mr Walsh is seeking damages including aggravated and/or exemplary damages in which it is alleged that on June 15, 2011, Watters met with Sun journalist Joanne McElgunn in the Newbridge Hotel, Navan.
During the meeting, she offered to pay him if he agreed to make a complaint to the gardaí about “about being assaulted” in the toilet, Mr Walsh says in his statement of claim for his pending libel action. That same day, Ms McElgunn allegedly travelled to Pearse St Garda Station in Dublin so the complaint could be made, it is claimed.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill reserved judgment on an application by Mr Walsh’s lawyers for discovery of documents in possession of The Sun. Gary Compton, for the paper, said it was essential for press freedom that people could go to journalists with information they knew would be treated in confidence.
Last night, The Sun said it denied claims that any of its staff “encouraged or enticed any person to make false allegations to the gardaí or anybody else against Louis Walsh”.
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