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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK


Spandau court bid fails

New Romantic leaders: Spandau Ballet at their height

Three former members of Spandau Ballet have vowed to appeal after losing a court battle to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds in royalties from the pop group's songwriter Gary Kemp.

Mr Justice Park told the High Court in London he found it "unconscionable" for singer Tony Hadley, drummer John Keeble and saxophonist Steve Norman to lay claim to "large sums of money which they knew Mr Kemp" had regarded as his.

The trio claimed they had a verbal agreement dating back to 1980 giving them a one-12th share of royalties from hits such as True and Gold, and even if there was no agreement, their contributions to the records still entitled them to money.

But Mr Justice Park said the three's bid had "failed in its entirety".

[ image: Tony Hadley: Planning to appeal]
Tony Hadley: Planning to appeal
Gary Kemp had said there was never any agreement that the other members would receive songwriting royalties.

The trio plan to take their case to the Court of Appeal.

Hadley said: "Obviously I am very, very disappointed, but I think we had every right to bring this case and we will live to fight another day."

Norman added the decision came as a "bombshell", and said he was "baffled" and confused" by the decision.

But Kemp said: "I am obviously delighted and relieved. I see this as a victory on behalf of all songwriters."

Judge found for Kemp

[ image: Gary Kemp:
Gary Kemp: "A victory for songwriters"
The judge said of Tony Hadley that he sang the songs "in his own memorable style" but did not change them, or if he did, the changes were too small to make him a joint author.

John Keeble's contribution, "excellent though it was", was to the performance rather than the creation and composition, while Steve Norman's "impressive contribution" included "elements of a performer's creativity", but "it did not significantly change the songs," he added.

Mr Justice Park found for Gary Kemp and his Reformation Publishing Company.

The UK music industry had watched the case closely. If the trio's claim had succeded it could have led to a flood of similar claims.

Best friends fell out

[ image: Steve Norman and John Keeble: Judge enjoyed their album]
Steve Norman and John Keeble: Judge enjoyed their album
The north London group were one of the most successful groups of the 1980s, forming as The Roots at school in Islington in 1976.

In court, Keeble described the "torment" that surrounded the band's music-making, and the one-time best friends fell out and split up in 1989.

Both Kemp brothers have since embarked on acting careers, with Martin Kemp - who is not involved in this case - now appearing in the BBC soap EastEnders. Gary Kemp is also still a successful songwriter.

But Hadley, Keeble and Norman have struggled to keep their careers alive during the 1990s.

Mr Justice Park raised smiles in the court during the case when he admitted to becoming a fan of the group. He listened to the songs Musclebound, Instinction, and To Cut A Long Story short, and had enjoyed a greatest hits CD so much he had left it at home.

He said: "I spent a large part of the weekend listening to this, it's very good. "I have certainly assimilated the style of the band, and with great pleasure."

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