This morning we learned that the just-resolved defamation dispute between FleishmanHillard EMEA regional president John Saunders and Irish pop singer Van Morrison had more twists than the singer’s own epic “Madame George.” (Though, to be fair, that song only had one.)
Way back in 2009, Van Morrison’s official site posted the announcement that “Gigi and Van Morrison are proud to announce the birth of their first born son, George Ivan Morrison III,” and entertainment news sources attributed the statement to the singer himself. The problem? The baby’s mother was not his wife, former Miss Ireland Michelle Rocca.
The singer claimed the announcement was a hoax, and Saunders — who had worked with Rocca in the past — went on the radio proclaiming the story to be false and claiming that Morrison did not know Gigi.
It’s not clear whether Saunders was paid to give these interviews, but it is clear that Van Morrison did indeed know Gigi.
Gigi (surname Lee) was never married to Van Morrison, but she had managed some of his tours in the past, and they were not strangers.
When this fact emerged, Saunders sued the singer for “misrepresentation, negligence, breach of duty and breach of contract.” The notoriously press-shy Morrison settled this week, and though we cannot read the letter he wrote to resolve the case, we do have the most important part from the Irish Mirror:
“On terms that include a letter that the plaintiff John Saunders acted with integrity and on the express instructions of the defendant Van Morrison.”
The conclusion being that Morrison now admits to telling Saunders to go on-air and deny the rumors. For the record, he “has always denied being the boy’s father,” though this settlement, which Saunders’ legal team calls “a vindication of his stated position,” certainly encourages doubts on that point.
Tragically, both mother and son died before the case could be resolved.