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Van Morrison settles case with PR guru

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Gigi Lee

Gigi Lee

Van Morrison

Van Morrison

John Saunders

John Saunders

Gigi Lee

Van Morrison has written a letter to a PR guru to set the record straight over the handling of allegations that he fathered a child with his former tour manager.

The publicity-shy musician was at the centre of a global media storm in Christmas 2009 after a statement was posted on his website announcing the birth of George Ivan Morrison III - Little Van, as he was known.

John Saunders, a top public relations figure in Dublin and across Europe, conducted a series of interviews on Morrison's behalf at the time to deny the reports or that he knew the mother Gigi Lee.

It subsequently emerged Ms Lee, from Fort Worth, Texas, worked as a manager on some of Morrison's tours. Mr Saunders took proceedings against the Belfast-born singer in 2012.

Yesterday, John Kerr BL, for Mr Saunders, told Ms Justice Marie Baker the defamation action had been settled on terms and could be struck out.

Mr Kerr told the court that the two sides had reached an agreement over fallout from the allegations.

The settlement was on the basis of a letter confirming Mr Saunders "had acted with integrity and on the express instructions of Mr Morrison" (in giving the radio interview) and that there would be undisclosed damages and legal costs, counsel said.

vindication

Mr Saunders' solicitor Paul Tweed said his client was happy with the outcome.

"John Saunders has no further comment to make other than to say that he is satisfied that the record has now been set straight with what has been a vindication of his stated position," Mr Tweed said.

The letter from Morrison to Mr Saunders is not being published.

Tragically, 44-year-old Ms Lee and her son George Ivan Morrison III - named Little Van on the mystery internet posting - died within 10 months of each other. Ms Lee suffered throat cancer and died in the Marie Curie hospice in Belfast in October 2011.

Her son had died aged 13 months the previous January after reportedly suffering a diabetic coma.

Morrison (69), who is married to one-time Miss Ireland Michelle Rocca, and has two children with her, has always denied being the boy's father.

The mystery internet posting on the singer's website on December 29, 2009, announcing the birth of Little Van was quickly removed at the time and declared a hoax by Morrison.

Mr Saunders, regional president of Europe, Middle East, Africa for the public relations giant FleishmanHilliard, spoke on Morrison's behalf at the time.

Morrison, whose biggest hits include Brown Eyed Girl and Moondance, has enjoyed a music career for more than 45 years. Neither Mr Saunders nor Mr Morrison were in court.

hnews@herald.ie


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