x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Bahrain prince sues Michael Jackson in UK court

The US pop star faces a claim in London's High Court that he reneged on an agreement to record a new album.

LONDON // A son of the king of Bahrain took US pop star Michael Jackson to court today for reneging on an agreement to record a new album and write an autobiography Bankim Thanki, the lawyer representing Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al Khalifa, told London's High Court that his client had made several payments to Jackson from 2005 onwards, including US$35,000 (Dh128,500) to pay utility bills at Jackson's Neverland Ranch. The court heard that the following month, in April 2005, Jackson asked for $1m through an assistant. "Sheikh Abdullah made many more payments on his behalf or to others," Mr Thanki said.

"Sheikh Abdullah began to support Mr Jackson financially after 2005 when it became clear that Mr Jackson was in very serious financial difficulties, much to Sheikh Abdullah's surprise," Mr Thanki added. The early financial support coincided with Mr Jackson's 2005 trial on child molestation charges. Despite his acquittal, the case left the performer's reputation and financial status in tatters.

Mr Jackson, 50, spent time in Bahrain as a guest of the royal family following the trial, and in April 2006 a statement was released on behalf of Bahrain music label Two Seas Records announcing he would record a new album for release in 2007. The sheikh is suing the pop legend for allegedly reneging on a $7m "payback" agreement designed to repay money he advanced to Jackson during his financial troubles.

He said he and Mr Jackson entered into a "combined rights agreement" under which the star was committed to a recording contract, an autobiography and a musical stage play. But Mr Jackson contests that there was no valid agreement and that the sheikh's case was based on "mistake, misrepresentation and undue influence". In his pleaded defence, Mr Jackson said the payments he received were "gifts" and that no project was ever finalised.

At the start of a court hearing set for up to 12 days, the judge heard that an application would be made for Mr Jackson to give evidence via video link from Los Angeles. * Reuters