The Sun have been forced to hand over £404,000 in damages to Louis Walsh, after they erroneously ran a story claiming that he had sexually assaulted a man in Dublin. The story, published on June 23, 2011, originated from the Irish Sun but was also printed in the UK version of the newspaper. It was later proven to be false and the alleged victim has been jailed for six moths. Leonard Watters had claimed that The X Factor judge had groped him in a toilet cubicle, after a Westlife concert, in April 2011, The Guardian reports.
A senior counsel for News Group International, who own The Sun, said “The Sun published an article in its editions of 23 June 2011, in which we reported that Louis Walsh was being investigated in relation to a sexual assault on Leonard Watters… 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. The Sun unreservedly apologises to Louis Walsh for any distress caused to him as a result of our article.”
Louis Walsh’s lawyer, Paul Tweed, explained that The Sun had only given them a matter of hours to gather evidence that Louis had not committed the offence and argued that he’d hope the outcome of the Leveson Inquiry into media practices would help put and end to this kind of media behaviour. Louis Walsh also made a statement, outside the court and said “I was 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, and was totally bewildered who would have made up this type of story.”