Michael Jackson, Bahrain prince seal legal deal

LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Jackson and a son of the king of Bahrain signed an out-of-court settlement on Monday ending a legal dispute under which the prince sued the pop star saying he reneged on a recording contract and owed him money.

Neither Jackson nor Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Khalifa were at London’s High Court to hear their lawyers confirm to the judge that a deal had been struck.

Two hours later, both sides agreed on the wording of a short joint statement, which they said formally ended the dispute.

“Sheikh Abdullah and Michael Jackson are pleased to confirm that they have amicably settled their dispute which was in litigation before the High Court in London,” said Philip Croall, senior partner at Freshfields law firm.

“They wish each other well in their own, respective endeavors,” he told reporters. Both sides said details of the settlement would not be made public.

News of a settlement “in principle” was announced late on Sunday, sparing Jackson the ordeal of having to travel to Britain to testify.

The reclusive 50-year-old originally said he would come to give evidence, sparking frenzied press interest and prompting court administrators to issue passes to media outlets to contain the crush in courtroom 73.

A small handful of die-hard fans came to the court on Monday to hear a lawyer address the judge for around 20 seconds, even though they knew Jackson had canceled plans to appear.

Michael Jackson waves to fans at a U.S. military facility in Tokyo, as he walks to board a helicopter bound for Camp Zama, a U.S. military base west of Tokyo, to join a fan appreciation event March 10, 2007. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon


Jackson’s lawyers argued that there was no valid agreement with Sheikh Abdullah, and they tried to portray the prince as a generous but naive, star-struck pop music amateur.

They also say Sheikh Abdullah’s payments to Jackson and his staff were intended as gifts, not part of a business agreement.

Details of Sheikh Abdullah’s generosity toward Jackson and brother Jermaine emerged during hearings last week.

Jackson and his children spent time in Bahrain as a guest of the royal family following his 2005 trial on child molestation charges at the end of which he was acquitted.

The case left Jackson’s career, reputation and financial status in tatters and he has been a virtual recluse since.

Sheikh Abdullah said that as well as reneging on a contract to record a new album, write an autobiography and produce a stage play, Jackson also owed him $7 million.

The court heard how the prince, hoping to play a part in reviving Jackson’s career, gave the star and representatives $1 million before they had even met, and provided $35,000 for utility bills at the Neverland Ranch in the United States.

He paid Jackson $2.2 million in legal fees, and more than $300,000 for the services of a motivational “guru.”

Sheikh Abdullah also spent $450,000 on Jermaine Jackson in late 2004 and early 2005, and paid for a Rolls-Royce car for him in California.

Jackson and the prince spoke by telephone and collaborated on songs long-distance during the 2005 trial, but their efforts ultimately came to little. Jackson walked away from the collaboration in 2006.