'X Factor' U.K. Judge to Get $645,000 in Settlement With Rupert Murdoch's 'Sun'

Louis Walsh - 'X Factor' Contestants Sighting in London - 2010
Danny Martindale/FilmMagic/Getty Images

A story in the tabloid wrongly claimed that Louis Walsh had sexually assaulted a man in a Dublin nightclub.


LONDON - X Factor U.K. judge Louis Walsh will get $645,000 in a legal settlement with British tabloid The Sun that was announced on Wednesday.

The settlement, which came a day before the final Leveson Inquiry report on U.K. media ethics, was reported by British TV networks and the Guardian.

The Sun, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., will also pay Walsh's legal costs.

Last year, it published a false story that said long-time manager Walsh had sexually assaulted a man in a Dublin nightclub. The story originated at the Dublin-based Irish edition of the Sun, but also ran in the main U.K. edition.

An unemployed dance teacher was later jailed for six months for wrongly accusing Walsh of groping him, the Guardian reported. The Sun acknowledged that the accusation was false, but denied Walsh's defamation claim.

Walsh is a veteran music manager, known for his work with the likes of Boyzone. He has been a judge on Simon Cowell-created ITV music competition show X Factor since its start here nine seasons ago.

"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," a lawyer for the paper said Wednesday, according to the Guardian.

"The Sun unreservedly apologizes to Louis Walsh for any distress caused to him as a result of our article."

Walsh's lawyer said: "This is a prime example of what we would look to see come out of [Thursday's final] Leveson [Inquiry report]. We are not trying to gag the press or stop investigations, but if there was a strong body that we could have rung before to get them to stop the story for 24 hours, we could have provided proof that Louis wasn't even in the place at the time and all this would have been avoided."

Said Walsh: "I am very satisfied with this total vindication for me, but I remain very angry at the treatment at the hands of the Sun."

He added: "I was absolutely gutted and traumatized 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."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai