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Attempts to settle Culture Club money fight ‘not fruitful’ ahead of trial

Boy George (Ian West/PA)
Boy George (Ian West/PA)

Efforts to settle a legal fight between Culture Club bandmates over the group’s tour money have “not been fruitful” amid a “considerable lack of trust and goodwill”, the High Court has heard.

Drummer Jon Moss is bringing a legal challenge against lead singer Boy George, guitarist Roy Hay and bassist Michael Craig, after allegedly being “expelled” by their manager in September 2018 following 37 years playing together.

Mr Moss argues he is owed an “outstanding balance” of 246,000.17 dollars (£188,000) under the terms of a band agreement reached over the operation of its 2018 Life Tour.

The former bandmates have attempted mediation “without any sign of success” ahead of a possible six-day trial where the value of the name Culture Club and the profits made by the band since Mr Moss’s alleged “expulsion” will be considered, the court was told.

A “very high seven-figure sum” could be involved in the trial proceedings expected to begin in Spring next year, Mr Moss’s barrister Celia Rooney told a hearing on Tuesday.

Mr Moss and members of Culture Club, best known for hits such as Do You Really Want To Hurt Me and Karma Chameleon, did not appear on the video-link during the remote hearing before Judge Julia Clark.

The short hearing covered preliminary issues, including a timetable before trial and estimated budgets for legal costs – which could potentially exceed half a million pounds on both sides.

In written submissions, Ms Rooney questioned the use of budgeting for further mediation, saying: “The parties have already attempted mediation without any sign of success.”

“The claimant is not adverse to further settlement in this case of course. We remain open to the potential of settlement,” Ms Rooney told the hearing, but that added there was a “considerable lack of trust and good will” between the parties.

Tuesday’s hearing came after Mr Moss amended his legal case to allege that Boy George “conspired to defraud” him out of the nearly a quarter of a million dollars under the band agreement.

According to Mr Moss, the “deal memo” meant each band member would receive a fee of 600,000 dollars (£458,000) for up to 80 concerts on the Life Tour.

Mr Moss originally launched litigation seeking a court declaration that the outstanding balance money was being held for him by the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), acting as his agent.

He claims the band’s booking agent agreed not to release it without Mr Moss’s agreement or a court order, but he later discovered the outstanding funds were released to a US company, You Give Me Life (YGML), following the settlement of legal proceedings in America in January 2021.

YGML and another English company, Other Places Drama LLP (OPD), had brought proceedings against APA in California claiming to be entitled to the money it held, Ms Rooney told a hearing in March.

She said Boy George was was the only “officer” of YGML and one of two “designated members” of OPD over which he has 75% of voting rights over.

Ms Rooney previously argued that the US proceedings involving these “personal service companies” – also now defendants in the UK case – could only have been brought with Boy George’s knowledge or by people acting on his behalf.

She noted that the knowledge Mr Craig and Mr Hay had over the US proceedings issue was unknown.

Mr Moss now claims that Boy George, YGML and/or OPD, were allegedly in breach of the “deal memo”, allegedly acted dishonestly in relation to the US settlement and allegedly entered into a conspiracy to defraud Mr Moss over the money he still believes is owed to him.

Ms Rooney explained that as part of the High Court litigation, the band previously settled a dispute over whether there was a “continuing partnership” since the formation of Culture Club before a planned trial in December last year, with Boy George, Mr Hay and Mr Craig conceding there was until Mr Moss’s alleged expulsion.

The outstanding issues from those proceedings “will require the court to consider the valuation of the name ‘Culture Club’ and the profits made by the band since the claimant’s expulsion”, Ms Rooney said in her written submissions for Tuesday’s hearing.

Boy George – whose real name is George O’Dowd – Mr Craig and Mr Hay are yet to file a formal defence to Mr Moss’s claims, but it is understood from court documents that they dispute his claim to the outstanding money.

Boy George issued a statement after the March hearing accusing Mr Moss of making a “personal attack on me” and “the most unfounded and hurtful allegations”.

“His allegations that I conspired to defraud him are entirely untrue and will be defended in the High Court in London,” he added.

A trial is expected to begin in March or April next year.