Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Boy George loses Big Brother legal battle

Boy George
Boy George was jailed in January and released on licence four months later

Boy George has been told he cannot participate in the final series of Celebrity Big Brother, a judge at the High Court has ruled.

The star's legal team had been trying to lift a Probation Service ban on him appearing on the Channel 4 show.

The singer - real name George O'Dowd - was released on licence from prison early for imprisoning a male escort.

Mr Justice Bean said the Probation Service was within its rights to refuse the star permission to appear.

He added that somebody who is out on licence and the restrictions placed on their freedom are part of their punishment.

"I consider that right-thinking members of the public would take the view that an offender serving the non-custodial part of a sentence of imprisonment should not be allowed to take part in a high profile, controversial television production, promoting his status as a celebrity and with considerable financial gain," Mr Justice Bean said.

Public confidence

A spokesman for the Probation Service said they were "pleased" with the judgement.

"We believe we made a common sense direction and this has been endorsed by the judge.

"We expect offenders to keep to their licence conditions which are in place to protect the public, punish offenders for their crime and aid rehabilitation," he added.

Boy George's lawyer Louis Charalambous on the decision

The 48-year-old former Culture Club singer and DJ went to the High Court to quash a decision by the Probation Service banning him from appearing on the show.

On Tuesday Richard Clayton QC, representing the Probation Service, said O'Dowd's participation would pose "a high level of risk" to the service's reputation.

The former Culture Club star is currently on licence and wears an electronic tag.

Mr Clayton argued that if he used the show to promote his status as a celebrity and earn "a lucrative sum of money" it could undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.

But Alison MacDonald, representing O'Dowd, told the court his Probation Service licence was designed to monitor his behaviour, protect the public and rehabilitate rather than punish him.

O'Dowd's lawyers could now take the matter further to the Court Of Appeal and ask the Lord Chief Justice if he will consider hearing the case.

It is not yet clear whether the star's legal team will do that.

The singer was convicted of false imprisonment after admitting handcuffing Norwegian Audun Carlsen to a wall in his London home in April 2007.

Previously O'Dowd had been given permission to perform at Brighton's Gay Pride event in August.

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