Dana denies family defamation claims

Former presidential candidate and Eurovision song contest winner Dana Rosemary Scallon has denied claims by her sister and a niece that she defamed them when asked about allegations of sexual abuse made against Ms Scallon’s brother John.

Dana denies family defamation claims

Susan Stein and her daughter, Susan Gorrell, both living in Iowa, US, have taken separate High Court actions alleging that Ms Scallon defamed them during an interview broadcast on TV3 in October 2011 during the presidential election campaign.

Ms Scallon, they claim, made statements which meant both women maliciously made up claims. Ms Gorrell claims she was sexually abused between 1971 and 1981 by her uncle, John Brown. They claim the allegations of abuse are true.

Mr Brown, 62, of Bracknell, Berkshire, was cleared in July 2014 of charges of indecent assault brought by two girls aged under 13 and 16 at several locations in the North and England in the 1970s and 80s.

He denied all the claims against him and also denied claims that Ms Scallon, a key witness in his defence, helped him cover up the allegations.

In her defence to the actions by Ms Stein and Ms Gorrell, Ms Scallon, of Claregalway, Co Galway, denies defamation.

She pleads the sexual abuse claims against her brother John first surfaced in 2005 during a US court dispute involving members of her family, including Ms Stein and Mr Brown, concerning copyright of her records and ownership of a music company, Heartbeat Records, described as the “number one stop for Catholic product”.

Accompanied by her husband Damian, Ms Scallon was in the High Court yesterday for the opening before Mr Justice Robert Eagar of her pre-trial application for orders requiring the plaintiffs provide security for her costs should they lose.

Oisin Quinn SC, for Ms Scallon, said that she has a “full and thorough” defence to both cases but that believed the plaintiffs would be unable to meet her costs — which she estimates at €425,000 and the plaintiffs estimate at €169,000 — should they lose.

He said during an interview broadcast on TV3 on October 14, 2011, when Ms Scallon was running for the presidency, she was asked about allegations circulating about Mr Brown.

The “sting” of the plaintiffs’ claim was words used by Ms Scallon, who had not named the plaintiffs, meant they were lying about the allegations of Ms Gorrell being abused by Mr Brown and had maliciously made up the claims, counsel said.

In October 2011, Ms Gorrell made a complaint to the UK police and Mr Brown was tried concerning her claims of sexual abuse and acquitted of all charges, counsel said.

The security for costs application was brought on grounds including a claim neither plaintiff has assets here, he said.

In opposing the security application, both plaintiffs contend their case is in the public interest. They also say they have “after the event” insurance cover under which the insurer will pay out €150,000 should they lose.

The hearing continues today.

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