LONDON (AFP) – Pop megastar Michael Jackson cancelled his expected appearance in court Monday, after reaching a settlement with a Bahraini prince suing him for seven million dollars (5.6 million euros).
Jackson was to have appeared at the High Court in London to defend himself over allegations made by Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the second son of the king of Bahrain.
But he cancelled his trip to Britain at the last minute on Sunday, after his legal teams in London struck an out-of-court deal in principle.
“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,” Celina Aponte, his spokeswoman in Britain, told AFP.
“He will not be attending court on Monday,” said Aponte, international director at The Outside Organisation.
Sheikh Abdulla had demanded the repayment of several advances he says he made as part of a joint music project in Bahrain, which Jackson pulled out of.
Jackson contested the claim, saying no project was ever finalised and insisting the money he received had been a gift.
The sheikh’s lawyer Bankim Thanki said his client helped support Jackson financially in the aftermath of his 2005 child molestation trial, in which the singer was acquitted.
He accepted a request for one million dollars in April 2005 and paid the 2.2-million-dollar legal bill for the court case, the lawyer said.
Thanki said Jackson signed a contract to record albums, write an autobiography and stage shows, and that document noted that seven million dollars would be deducted from the artist’s royalties to pay for expenses.
Jackson said however that the sheikh’s case was based on “mistake, misrepresentation and undue influence”.
His lawyer Robert Englehart said last week in court that while there was “no doubt that Sheikh Abdulla was very generous in his hospitality and general treatment of Michael Jackson”, the contract Jackson apparently signed was “one brick in a building which was never built.”
Jackson, 50, was one of the world’s most successful pop artists, and his 1982 hit “Thriller” remains the best-selling album of all time. However, he has since experienced financial difficulties.
The US pop star only agreed last Thursday to travel to London for the court case, after asking to be allowed to give evidence by video link.
During argument last week over his court appearance, Jackson’s lawyers said the star was suffering from an unspecificed medical condition and it was unlikely that he would be able to give evidence in person.
Experts for the sheikh said, though, that it may have been possible for Jackson to testify in London with “suitable dressings”, according to the BBC.