Walsh Gets £400,000

Music impresario and “X Factor” judge Louis Walsh has won a £400,000 ($643,847) libel settlement against UK tabloid The Sun for a false story claiming he indecently assaulted a young man in a nightclub bathroom.

The out-of-court deal, revealed on the eve of publication of Lord Leveson’s report on how the UK press goes about its business, was reached after Walsh sued Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers for damages over an article the tabloid published in June 2011 under the headline: “Louis probed over ‘sex attack’ on man in loo.”

Within days of the publication, it emerged that Walsh’s accuser, unemployed dance teacher Leonard Watters, had fabricated his claim that he had been groped in a Dublin nightclub after a Westlife concert in April 2011.

Walsh’s lawyers also claimed the paper paid Watters to make a statement to police.

Watters was jailed for six months in July for making false reports to the police and issued a public apology to the 60-year-old music mogul, who has become a household name in Britain and the U.S. for his role on the judging panel of “The X Factor.”

In an Irish High Court hearing Nov. 27, Eoin McCullogh a lawyer for The Sun and its sister Irish title, which originally ran the story, said its report had been based on its understanding that Walsh was being investigated by police for the assault.

“We fully accept 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,” he said.

Lawyers for Walsh said that a crime correspondent for the Irish Sun had bought Watters dinner at a Dublin hotel in June last year and agreed to pay him euro 700 ($916) after he made a complaint against Walsh about the invented encounter at Krystle, a celebrity nightclub.

They said Watters was due another payout when the story was published.

Apart from the £400,000 settlement, the Murdoch paper will also have to pick up the tab for Walsh’s legal costs, estimated to be about euro 180,000 ($235,659).