Monday, December 3, 2012

Suicidal Louis Walsh Helped by Elton John

Pop mogul awarded €500,000 over bogus sex-assault slur tells Niamh Horan how a phone call gave him new hope

LOUIS Walsh has opened up for the first time about an unexpected phone call from Elton John which he credits with saving his life.

"Elton gave me hope. He told me to fight," he said.

In an emotional interview, Walsh told how he spent a sleepless night contemplating suicide in the plush Kensington Hotel in London, only hours after hearing false and malicious allegations about a bogus sex assault were about to be splashed across the following morning's Irish Sun newspaper and go viral around the world.

He said: "It went through my mind that night in the Kensington Hotel. It could have physically ended me. I just thought, is this ever going to go away? I didn't want to live.

"I could have lost my job, my name. How could I have ever walked down the street again without people thinking there's no smoke without fire? Well, there is no fire. They created the fire."

But as a new day dawned, an impromptu call came that changed his mind and set him on the road to reclaim his good name and win a €500,000 libel case against the Sun.

He said: "Elton called me in the morning. I will always remember it. I don't even know how he got my number. I had been one of his biggest fans for many years. He just said, 'Fight it'. And that was all I needed – he gave me hope.

"He had the same problem and he gave me numbers I needed to contact and told me to keep in touch with him and that was it. I felt empowered by those words, he lifted me. If Elton could do it, then so could I. He didn't even have to call me. I will be eternally grateful to him for that."

Elton John won a £1m settlement from the Sun in 1988 over false allegations it had published about him.

Halfway through his victory speech on the steps of the High Court in Dublin last Wednesday, Walsh, who still becomes visibly upset when he speaks about the incident, stood in silence as he tried to regain his composure in front of the world's media.

"I block it out. When I talk about it I get upset. It could have ruined my life," he said. "Everyone told me, 'Don't take the Sun on, you can't win'. And I f***ing won. It's relief – and revenge. Revenge is sweet. I am all for the freedom of press, as long as the stories are true."

Praising his legal team, he went on: "I'm on a high. The only reason I got them [the Sun] was Paul Tweed and Gavin Bonner. It's very simple. Nobody else would have taken them on."

The X Factor judge had sued the Sun over a story it published in June last year based on a false allegation that he had sexually assaulted a man in Dublin nightclub Krystle.

Unemployed dance teacher Leonard Watters (24), from Navan, Co Meath, was jailed for six months last July for wrongly accusing Walsh of groping him in the club's toilets following a Westlife concert in April 2011.

Despite receiving a €500,000 settlement, Walsh insists the money is "no compensation" for what he has gone through over the past year.

A legal representative of the vindicated pop manager said he has "yet to decide" if he will spend the money or donate it to charity.

Walsh received messages of support from stars around the globe, including Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell, following the settlement.


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