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Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 10:06 GMT
Jackson testifies in $21m legal row
Michael Jackson
Jackson removed his customary mask in court
Singer Michael Jackson has given evidence in a US court in a case brought by his promoter, who is suing him for $21.2m (14m) for allegedly backing out of two concerts.

German music publicist Marcel Avram - who has worked with Mr Jackson since 1972 - said the singer pulled out of a deal to perform in Sydney, Australia, and Honolulu over the millennium.

Mr Jackson said the shows were cancelled by Mr Avram, after the promoter realised they would not be as profitable as he had hoped.

Mr Jackson's lawyer told Santa Barbara County Superior Court, Los Angeles, that Mr Avram had agreed the singer was to have been paid $15m (9m) for the concerts.

Michael Jackson
Jackson entered and left court with a mask
But Mr Avram's lawyer, Louis Miller, said his client had had no motive to cancel the concerts, adding that Mr Jackson was paid a $1m (600,000) advance and had debts totalling $1.2m (750,000) covered.

Mr Avram had agreed to cover expenses for the benefit shows with the understanding that he would recoup his costs from the new year concerts, Mr Miller said.

The promoter said he tried for six months to reach an amicable agreement with Mr Jackson over the concerts, which had been billed as Michael Jackson and Friends.

They were to feature other performers including Ringo Starr and Mariah Carey.

Mr Jackson's lawyer, Zia Modabber, said Mr Avram postponed the concerts in October 1999, when he met with the singer's representatives.

Miichael Jackson
Michael Jackson is a long-established star
"He could not live up to the huge promises he made to Mr Jackson," Mr Modabber said.

But Mr Miller tried to highlight alleged discrepancies in a testimony given by Mr Jackson in June last year.

The singer was asked about a phone call he said he had received from Mr Avram to call off the two concerts, but which Mr Avram denies took place.

"I remember being in the bathroom, it was a private call," Mr Jackson told the court on Wednesday.

Mr Miller said Mr Jackson had said earlier he was not sure where he had taken the call.

'Wrong'

"Isn't it a fact that you don't know if you were even in the United States when you took this call?" Mr Miller asked.

"That's wrong," the singer replied.

The three-hour court proceedings were watched by about 30 people who had won a lottery for seats.

Outside the court, the singer waved to fans before being driven off in a black car escorted by five police officers on motorcycles.

Mr Jackson is expected to return for more questioning on Thursday.

See also:

27 Jun 00 | Entertainment
15 Oct 99 | Entertainment
25 Apr 02 | Showbiz
28 Oct 01 | Music
05 Mar 01 | Entertainment
05 Mar 01 | Entertainment
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