Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 12:45 UK

Procol Harum ruling is overturned

Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher
Singer Gary Brooker (left) claimed that the 2006 trial was unfair

Procol Harum lead singer Gary Brooker has won back full royalty rights to the band's worldwide hit, A Whiter Shade of Pale, at London's Court of Appeal.

The decision overturns a 2006 ruling that organist Matthew Fisher was entitled to a 40% portion of royalties on the 1967 hit.

Mr Fisher, of south London, argued he had written the song's organ melody.

The court ruled there was an "excessive delay" in the claim being made - nearly 40 years after the song was recorded.

[Matthew Fisher] silently stood by and acquiesced in the defendant's commercial exploitation of the work for 38 years
Lord Justice Mummery

The Court of Appeal agreed that Mr Fisher had contributed the organ theme but ruled that he should, nevertheless, receive no money from past or future royalties.

Lord Justice Mummery said: "Matthew Fisher is guilty of excessive and inexcusable delay in his claim to assert joint title to a joint interest in the work.

"He silently stood by and acquiesced in the defendant's commercial exploitation of the work for 38 years."

The delay in making a case, which Mr Fisher had begun in May 2005, "made it unconscionable and inequitable for him to seek to exercise control over the commercial exploitation of the copyright in the work".

Neither Mr Brooker nor Mr Fisher were in court to hear the ruling.

Procol Harum
A Whiter Shade of Pale reached number five in the US

Mr Brooker, who still fronts Procol Harum, said in a statement: "For nearly three years, this claim has been a great strain upon myself and my family.

"I believe the original trial was unfair and the results wrong.

"Justly, the decisions of the Court of Appeal have gone some way to putting this right and I would hope that now we can all get on with our lives."

Mr Brooker, from Dunsfold in Surrey, is still fighting Mr Fisher over who should pay the legal costs of the 2006 action.

'Pop star'

Lord Justice Mummery said a decision would be taken on that at a later date.

He said that a bid by Mr Fisher to take the case for final appeal at the House of Lords would also be considered.

In October, the Court of Appeal heard from John Baldwin QC, representing Mr Brooker, who said that Mr Fisher had failed to take the case to court earlier because he knew it would be the end of his career in the group.

"He wanted to stay in the band and live the life of a pop star," Mr Baldwin said.

"Being a litigant was not something he could do alongside that, and he realised what he would have to give up."

He said that Mr Fisher had not alerted Mr Brooker or their record company when he decided to take action, "with the result that they could not prepare themselves to meet the claim".

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