November 23, 2008 / 8:24 PM / 11 years ago

Michael Jackson cancels plan to appear in UK court

LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Jackson will not appear in a London court on Monday after the U.S. pop star reached a settlement “in principle” with a Bahraini prince suing him for reneging on a recording contract.

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

The reclusive 50-year-old had agreed last week to testify at the High Court.

“As Mr. Jackson was about to board his plane to London, he was advised by his legal team to postpone his travels since the parties had concluded a settlement in principle,” a London spokeswoman for Jackson said on Sunday.

“Therefore, he will not be attending court on Monday,” said the spokeswoman from PR company Outside Organization.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Khalifa, second son of the king of Bahrain, said Jackson failed to honor a contract to record a new album, write an autobiography and produce a stage play.

He also told the court last week that Jackson owed him $7 million after the prince paid for legal costs, travel and other expenses in 2005 and 2006.

Jackson and his children spent time in Bahrain as a guest of the royal family following a 2005 trial on child molestation charges, but he backed down from plans to work with Sheikh Abdullah in 2006.

He was acquitted of the charges in 2005, but the trial left Jackson’s career, reputation and financial status in tatters and he has been a virtual recluse since.


Jackson’s lawyers argued that there was no valid agreement with Sheikh Abdullah, and they have 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 the personal and financial relationship between Jackson and Sheikh Abdullah surfaced during the first week of the trial.

The court heard that the prince gave Jackson and his representatives $1 million before he had met the star, and provided $35,000 to pay for utility bills at the singer’s 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 Jackson’s brother Jermaine 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.

The courts took the unusual step last week of issuing tickets to media outlets wanting to attend the hearing on Monday, in anticipation of the huge press and public interest his appearance was likely to generate.

(Editing by Keith Weir)

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