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Saturday, 2 February, 2002, 14:34 GMT
Rik faces Pop Idol legal threat
The final five Pop Idol contestants
The show has been a huge hit despite Rik's exit
A legal battle looms over recording rights for a former contestant from the hit television show Pop Idol.

Rik Waller, who pulled out of the competition through illness, risks being taken to court by releasing his first single next month.

Thames Television claims he is contractually obliged to wait three months after the end of the series before releasing a record.

But Waller has sent a defiant message to Pop Idol bosses - who include show judge Simon Cowell - saying he never signed the final contract.
RIk Waller, forced to quit the show
Waller: Make his day

The 20-year-old from Kent, who weighs 20st, enjoyed huge popular support but was forced to leave the ITV show with a throat infection.

He has since signed a 400,000 record deal with industry giants EMI and is planning to release a version of I Will Always Love You - a hit for Whitney Houston - on 4 March.

Waller says: "They've sent me a threatening letter saying that if I continue to disobey the terms of the contract they will take legal action.

Number One

"But I didn't sign the final 10 contract, which was the only one legally binding.

"The way I see it I'm not under any obligation whatsoever.

"When I received the letter I thought: 'Go ahead, make my day.'"

He wants his single to knock the Pop Idol winner's first record, released one week before, off top spot.

Pop producer Simon Cowell
Cowell: judge and boss
Steve Pritchard, director of EMI records, said: "We've had no contact with Thames TV but we are expecting a letter from them.

"Rik's single will be out on 4 March and will be number one on Mothers' Day on 10 March."

A spokeswoman for Thames Television said it was too early to say whether legal action would be taken.

"The thing about Pop Idol is that lots of new stars have been pulled from the show and we are very happy about that," she added.

See also:

01 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Pop Idol trio battle for final
22 Jan 02 | TV Film
Pop Idol final four meet the press
21 Jan 02 | TV Film
Bickering judges given a roasting
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