Boy George “conspired to defraud” his former Culture Club bandmate out of nearly a quarter of a million dollars, it is being alleged in a High Court dispute over the group’s tour money.
Drummer Jon Moss is bringing a legal challenge against the band’s lead singer, guitarist Roy Hay, and bassist Michael Craig, after allegedly being “expelled” by their manager in September 2018 following 37 years of “service”.
Mr. Moss argues he is owed an “outstanding balance” of 246,000.17 dollars (£188,000) under the terms of a band agreement reached over the operation of its 2018 Life Tour.
Details of the ongoing case emerged in a remotely held High Court hearing before a judge, Deputy Master Marc Glover, on Monday.
The members of Culture Club, best known for hits such as Do You Really Want To Hurt Me and Karma Chameleon, did not appear on the video link during the proceedings.
During a three-hour hearing, the judge granted an application by Mr. Moss’s barrister Celia Rooney to amend details of his claim and to join two companies linked to Boy George to the case.
Boy George – whose real name is George O’Dowd – Mr. Craig and Mr. Hay are yet to file an amended defense to Mr. Moss’s new claims, but it is understood from draft court documents that they dispute his claim to the outstanding money.
According to a draft court document, the agreement between the band members – dubbed the “deal memo” – meant each would receive a fee of 600,000 dollars (£458,000) for up to 80 concerts on the Life Tour.
Mr. Moss originally launched litigation seeking a court declaration that the outstanding balance money was being held for him by the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), acting as his agent.
Ms. Rooney said in written arguments that the band’s booking agent had agreed not to release it without Mr. Moss’s agreement or court order.
But she explained that Mr. Moss later learned the outstanding funds were released to a US company, You Give Me Life, Inc (YGML), following the settlement of legal proceedings in America in January 2021.
YGML and another English company, Other Places Drama LLP (OPD), had brought proceedings against APA in California claiming to be entitled to the money it held, Ms. Rooney said.
Ms. Rooney said this was a “direct breach of reassurances” given by APA and that Mr. Moss had not been involved in the US proceedings.
She told the court on Monday that Boy George was the only “officer” of YGML and one of two “designated members” of OPD over which he has 75% of voting rights over.
Ms. Rooney argued that the US proceedings involving these “personal service companies” could only have been brought with Boy George’s knowledge or by people acting on his behalf.
In written submissions, she said this meant Mr. Moss had was “effectively forced” to re-plead his case where Boy George is alleged to “have conspired to defraud the claimant of nearly a quarter of a million dollars which are the subject of these proceedings”.
She noted that the knowledge Mr. Craig and Mr. Hay had over the US proceedings issue was unknown.
Mr. Moss is now seeking to claim that Boy George, YGML, and/or OPD, were allegedly in breach of the “deal memo” previously reached over the Life Tour, allegedly acted dishonestly in relation to the US settlement, and allegedly entered into a conspiracy to defraud Mr. Moss over the money he still believes is owed to him.
Ms. Rooney explained that as part of the High Court litigation, the band previously settled a dispute over whether there was a “continuing partnership” since the formation of Culture Club before a trial listed in December last year, with Boy George, Mr. Hay, and Mr. Craig conceding there was until Mr, Moss’s alleged “expulsion”.
Earlier on Monday, Lawrence Kelly, representing the three bandmates facing Mr Moss’s legal challenge, unsuccessfully applied for the hearing to be adjourned.
He told the court he was unable to give “helpful answers” over the case as he needed to “get up to speed”, having only been instructed by Boy George, Mr. Craig, and Mr. Hay since Friday.
Ms. Rooney opposed a delay to the hearing suggesting it could be a “tactical decision” and arguing there was no explanation over the timing and why the three band members had changed from their previous law firm Russells Solicitors.
Rejecting the bid for an adjournment, the judge said it came at the “11th hour” and noted that the previously instructed law firm had previously appeared not to have opposed the applications sought by Mr. Moss’s lawyers on Monday.
A further preliminary hearing in the case is due to be held on May 3.