Van: no new baby

Friends of reclusive Irish music legend Van Morrison have defended the way the singer handled false news stories last week that he had become a father for the fourth time. In what was widely regarded as a public relations disaster for Morrison, the reports circulated unchallenged for two days before they were exposed as an internet hoax.

John Saunders of Fleishman Hillard Communications, a friend of Morrison's, said there is "no doubt" that there is absolutely no truth in the original statement, which was placed on Morrison's website after it was hacked.

Speaking to the Sunday Tribune, Saunders said: "I have been in touch with Van and he categorically states he has not fathered a child to another woman and that his website had been hacked."

Mystery still surrounds the identity of the woman, named in the initial report as Gigi Lee. Speaking earlier in the week, Saunders said Morrison had "never heard the name".

But Lee was listed as Morrison's "business partner" in a London Times article last September, was named as his "tour executive" and as being present in an interview in a piece carried by LA Weekly last year, and was credited as an "executive producer" on his Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl DVD.

Saunders has said Morrison may have forgotten the name as he "operates on a different plane".

"I do not know if this Gigi Lee exists. There have been reports that she does. But I don't know. Van deals with loads of people. He is forgetting names all the time and it's nothing personal, but he sometimes just cannot remember them all. He operates on a different plane from us all."

According to Saunders, both Morrison and his wife, former model Michelle Rocca, agreed it was important to inform the Irish public first when releasing their statement refuting the claims.

"Van has a lot of friends and family who were worried when they saw the reports. We agreed that we needed to get a statement out from Ireland first of all because of this, as their good name here is very important to them. It was an upsetting time for those family and friends."

Saunders said he hopes the final statement "is effective in killing these allegations because it is all very untrue".

Morrison last week ordered an investigation into how his official website was hacked.

IT security expert Brian Honan said Morrison should set up his own Facebook page and Twitter accounts. "This way, Van will not have to deal with the situation where someone claims to be Van Morrison ... sending messages, which would be another ­problem."