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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
Procol Harum battle back in court
Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker
Singer Gary Brooker claims last year's trial was unfair
A legal battle over who wrote Procol Harum's 1967 hit A Whiter Shade of Pale has returned to court in London.

Lead singer Gary Brooker is appealing against last year's ruling that organist Matthew Fisher was entitled to a portion of the song's royalties.

Mr Fisher, a classically-trained musician who now works as a computer programmer, had originally claimed a half share of the musical copyright.

But in December 2006, the court ruled he was entitled to a 40% stake.

Now Mr Brooker is trying to reverse that judgment.

John Baldwin QC, representing Mr Brooker, told the three Appeal Court judges 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.

Fair trial 'impossible'

Matthew Fisher
Matthew Fisher was awarded 40% of the musical copyright
He said: "There are advantages in being a pop star. Girls wink at you. There are huge lifestyle benefits from being a pop star and this was Mr Fisher's dream.

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

"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".

Mr Baldwin added that this had meant previous proceedings were unfair.

A fair trial was impossible, he added, because many critical witnesses were dead, including impresario David Platz, who predicted that the song he heard in early March 1967 - before Mr Fisher joined the group - would be "a certain hit".

Test of copyright

Vital evidence - including Mr Brooker's original tape of the song, featuring his own attempt at a Bach theme on the piano - had also been lost, Mr Baldwin added.

Mr Brooker's lawyers say the case is an important test of copyright for the pop industry.

The judge had given Mr Fisher a lesser amount because he ruled that while he had made a "substantial contribution" to the song, it was not as a great as that of the singer.

A claim for back royalties was also thrown out in last year's case.

Mr Brooker, who still fronts Procul Harum, was faced with a legal bill estimated at 500,000.

The hearing is due to resume on Thursday, when judgment is expected to be reserved.



SEE ALSO
Organist wins Procol Harum battle
20 Dec 06 |  Entertainment
Procol ex-organist 'regrets Pale'
14 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
What is the light fandango?
14 Nov 06 |  Magazine
Procol ex-organist plays in court
13 Nov 06 |  Entertainment

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