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Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 16:10 GMT
Spice Girls lose motorcycle case
Spice Girls
The contract flopped when five became four
The Spice Girls have lost a legal battle against a motorcycle company over a sponsorship deal that crashed after Ginger Spice left the group.

The Italian firm, Aprilia, said the departure of Geri Halliwell had cost it more than 1.6m in lost profits.

Aprilia was awarded 434,000 in damages. With costs the total bill is expected to reach 1m.

Aprilia does not have any ill-feelings towards the members of the Spice Girls or Geri Halliwell

Aprilia spokesman
Ms Halliwell walked out on the group three weeks after the contract with the scooter firm was signed.

A spokesman for Aprilia said after the hearing the company was pleased with the outcome of the case.

The spokesman added it was "regrettable that the matter had to come before the court to achieve a satisfactory resolution".

"Aprilia does not have any ill-feelings towards the members of the Spice Girls or Geri Halliwell and wishes them all the best for their future careers," he said.

Appeal considered

The group is now considering whether to appeal.

In a statement the Spice Girls said: "[We] have not yet decided whether to appeal."

The original marketing contract had meant the pop act would get nearly 500,000 plus their own scooters whereas Aprilia would get Europe's most popular girl group to promote their new model - the Sonic Spice.
Ms Halliwell with a minder
Ms Halliwell with a minder
The company were hoping for big sales especially among Italian teenage girls. In Italy it is legal to ride a scooter from the age of 14.

The company said in court the promotion turned into a "total marketing flop" when Ms Halliwell left.

Mrs Justice Arden said the Spice Girls knew that Geri intended to leave the group from April 25 1998, after a management meeting in the dressing room at a Wembley concert.

But after the hearing, Melanie Chisholm - aka Sporty Spice - maintained she and the other Spice Girls did not know Geri was leaving.

'Justice not done'

She told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat: "We were in the right. If we have lost the case then justice has not been done.

"We did not know Geri was going to leave. But hey-ho, life goes on."

The Spice Girls had sued Aprilia for 212,500 in a counter claim which they said they were owed as part of the sponsorship deal.

During the hearing Ms Halliwell compared leaving the Spice Girls to a marriage break-up.

She said: "Half of me wanted to stay and the other half said it was time to go."

The 27-year-old singer gave evidence at the High Court in London.
Spice Sonic publicity
Aprilia's Gregor Kleinknecht with Spice Sonic publicity
Under cross-examination by Andrew Sutcliffe, representing Aprilia, Ms Halliwell said she remembered telling the rest of the group in early March 1998 that she was thinking of leaving at the end of their world tour in September. The final dates of the tour were in the UK.

Ms Halliwell said that at one of the group's regular meetings in April 1998, it was decided to delay releasing news of her departure - but she said it was because it was "quite an emotional thing among the band" rather than to avoid bad publicity.

Ms Halliwell added she was aware at the time of an Aprilia photo shoot in early May and that the company was investing a lot of money in the Spice Girls.

Baby Spice Emma Bunton also gave evidence, telling the court that the Spice Girls had not believed Ms Halliwell would ever leave the group.

She said the pop phenomenon were "as strong as ever" after Ms Halliwell's departure.

The BBC Liz Mackean reports
"A marketing marriage made in heaven"
See also:

24 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Spices split over Geri at Brits
09 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Baby Spice joins legal fight
24 Feb 00 | Business
Sponsorship can add real spice
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
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