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veteran comedian

Comedian Sil Fox sues State for alleged breach of human rights over failed sexual assault prosecution

Fox walked free from court last May after being cleared of all charges against him.

VETERAN COMEDIAN SYLVESTER ‘Sil’ Fox has issued legal proceedings against the State over a prosecution for sexual assault brought against him in 2019. 

Fox walked free from court last May after a judge cleared him of sexually assaulting a woman in a bar in Dublin in December 2018.

He had pleaded not guilty to the allegation, which it was claimed occurred after he agreed to have a photo taken with a woman who accused him.

Papers filed in the High Court show that Fox is suing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice, the Attorney General and the State over the failed prosecution.

A plenary summons shows that he is seeking damages for a breach of his right to a good name under Article 40.3.2 of the Irish Constitution.

He is also seeking damages for the infliction of emotional distress against him, and the manner in which the charges against him were reported in public without restriction.

A plenary summons says Fox suffered “serious reputational damages arising from the false allegations” and that a review of the CCTV evidence used in the case would have prevented a prosecution.

Fox is represented by Belfast-based firm KRW Law, which specialises in human rights law.

He had initially sought an apology from the DPP last year, as well as damages from the DPP, the Garda Commissioner, the Justice Minister, the Attorney General and the State which arose from his having to defend the allegations, the loss of his reputation, and the loss of his business activities.

The comedian also sought a statement of intent from the five co-defendants to initiate or support a judge-led inquiry into “inequities” in reporting restrictions between complainants and defendants when charges of sexual assault occur.

The letter of claim said that the charges brought against Fox had attracted “considerable adverse publicity”, particularly as the comedian was pictured and named in a number of publications alongside details of the charges against him.

“His right to privacy was not protected and he has suffered serious reputational damages arising from these false allegations,” the letter read.

It further noted that Fox was precluded from bringing a case of malicious prosecution or defamation after being found not guilty of the charges, and that “a public wrong” had occurred.

“[He has] lost work and suffered distress and psychological harm as a result of the false allegations and decision to prosecute,” it added.

A spokesperson for KRW Law said that the five co-defendants denied liability when damages and remedies were sought from them last year, and that court proceedings were initiated as a result.

Speaking after he was cleared last year, Fox told reporters that he had been through “months of hell” over the allegations.

He later said on RTÉ’s Liveline programme – where he regularly featured as part of Funny Friday – that he had not “worked a day since” the case was made public.

“Sometimes I used to cry when I realised no one wanted to know anything about me,” he told the programme.

“They all believed I was guilty [...] You lose what you’ve worked at and when that goes you begin to wonder what’s left.”

No hearing date has yet been set for the case.

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