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Sean Brickell reports for BBC News
"Passers-by strained to catch a glimpse of the pop star"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 February, 2000, 17:29 GMT
Baby Spice joins legal fight

Aprilia's Gregor Kleinknecht with Spice Sonic publicity

The Spice Girls never believed Geri Halliwell would leave the group, Baby Spice Emma Bunton has told a court.

The singer was giving evidence in a legal battle between the group and Aprilia, the company which sponsored their 1998 would tour. Aprilia - an Italian motorcycle manufacturer - claims Ms Halliwell's departure cost them 1.6m in lost profits.

After 40 minutes in the witness box at the High Court in London on Wednesday, Emma Bunton said: "I was nervous giving evidence. Going on stage is much easier."

The company launched a motor scooter called the Spice Sonic with a logo including silhouettes of all five members of the group.

Emma Bunton arrives at the High Court
The company says the group became "a total marketing flop" overnight when Ms Halliwell left in May 1998. It alleges the girls signed a 500,000 contract to promote the scooter knowing she was to leave.

The Spice Girls are carrying out their own legal action against Aprilia for not paying 212,000 of the sponsorship deal.

In court, Andrew Sutcliffe, representing Aprilia, asked Ms Bunton if she remembered a conversation with Ms Halliwell on a tour coach in Frankfurt when she announced she wanted to leave the Spice Girls.

Emma Bunton replied: "I didn't remember that conversation until I read Geri's witness statement."

Pressed further, she said: "It is difficult. I have a terrible memory.

We never took any fact seriously. We were always working very hard and long hours and we just didn't believe it
Baby Spice Emma Bunton
"We never took any fact seriously. We were always working very hard and long hours and we just didn't believe it. Things were said all the time and this was just something we didn't take seriously."

Mr Sutcliffe said that when Ms Halliwell made her first announcement about leaving in March, everyone had stopped talking, and Ms Bunton admitted it had come as a shock. But she added: "We never believed that she would go."

Geri Halliwell: Due in court on Friday
Later that month in Milan, Ms Halliwell made a second announcement to the group that she was leaving, he said.

"I don't remember her saying definitely. We were just about to go on stage."

Ms Bunton added she remembered fellow group member Melanie Chisholm saying Ms Halliwell was trying to "do a Robbie" - a reference to former Take That singer Robbie Williams, now a solo artist.

To that, Ms Halliwell replied she would "stick it out" to the following September and she was committed to the group.

The hearing was adjourned until Friday, when Ms Halliwell is expected to give evidence on behalf of the group.

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See also:
08 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
Spice Girls became 'marketing flop'
29 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Spices win lifetime award
07 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Geri wins Spice war
16 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Geri's 'folk tale' life story
14 Sep 99 |  Entertainment
I hold no grudge says Geri

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