Dana's TV comments led to abuse claims against brother going public, court told

Wednesday 16 July 2014 21.29
Dana spoke of 'vile and malicious lies' about her family during her election campaign
Dana spoke of 'vile and malicious lies' about her family during her election campaign

Sex abuse allegations against Dana Scallon's brother may never have surfaced if the former presidential candidate had not mentioned them in two television interviews, a court heard today.

The Eurovision song contest winner spoke about "vile and malicious lies" going around about her family during her 2011 election campaign.

Harrow Crown Court heard this morning that the comments led to one of the alleged victims going public.

Dana's brother John Brown, 60, of Lily Hill Road, in Bracknell, Berkshire, is facing five counts of indecent assault against two girls under the ages of 13 and 16 at various times and locations in the 1970s.

He denies the charges.

Today Greg Harkin, the Irish Independent newspaper's north-west regional correspondent, who first broke the story in October 2011, told how he spoke to the first alleged victim, now 47, by phone ten days earlier about the abuse.

He then approached Dana and her brother Gerald about the allegations before any story was published, but both refused to comment, the court heard.

That week during an election debate and another television interview, Dana cryptically referred to the allegations, insisting they were "vile and malicious lies".

Giving evidence Mr Harkin said: "The whole nation thought it was bizarre. The big story the next day was ‘what was all that about?'"

He said when he first spoke to the alleged victim she was a "reluctant witness" and was unsure about going public.

But that changed when Dana made the comments in television interviews on TV3 and RTÉ days later.

Mr Harkin said: "After the TV3 interview went out she [the alleged victim] was very angry. That article [revealing the abuse claims] might never have appeared if it weren’t for the television interview.

"She was angry, she wanted to clear her name. I think at that point she felt she had been made out to be a liar by Dana on television so she felt she had to respond."

The court later heard evidence from a younger sister of the second alleged victim, now 53, who claims Mr Brown touched her inappropriately on two occasions at an address in Northern Ireland and at her home in Essex.

The alleged victim had earlier told the trial Mr Brown groped her as she lay in bed next to her younger sister, who took the stand this afternoon.

Recalling the night in question, when the victim was aged ten or 11, the sister said: "John was in the bedroom, I think we were already in bed.

"I just remember lying down and he was talking to … [her sister]. He was wearing underpants. He stayed there for a little while and then we said we wanted to go to sleep and he went out of the room.

"[Later] I woke up with someone grabbing down my side, swishing in bed and pinching me. I couldn’t see things clearly but my sister was swishing in bed and my initial thought was he [Brown] was kissing her. He was on top of her.

"I just said ‘what are you doing John? Get out’. I just felt uncomfortable and I didn’t want him to be there."

Mr Brown is alleged to have then left the room after a light came on in the hallway or bathroom.

The case continues.