Stewart must pay $3m for cancelled show

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The Independent Culture

A judge in Las Vegas has told Rod Stewart, the veteran icon of British rock, to pay more than $3m (£1.7m) to Harrah's Entertainment for failing to reimburse an advance he received for a 2000 New Year concert he pulled out of citing problems with his throat.

The ruling, delivered by US District Judge Larry Hicks, stems from a finding by a jury late last year that Mr Stewart indeed should have repaid the advance to the company. There was no comment yesterday from the singer, still best known for his single "Maggie May", or from his lawyers in the case.

Mr Stewart, 60, had been scheduled to appear at Harrah's Rio Hotel, a Carnival-themed resort complex just off the main Las Vegas Strip, for the New Year concert. He cancelled on medical grounds, telling the organisers that he was still recovering from surgery for thyroid cancer a few months earlier.

The ruling comes at a time when Mr Stewart is reported to be considering moving to live in Las Vegas. He is due to make a concert appearance at another hotel, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, next month. The MGM has offered him a contract to become its resident star attraction for up to three years.

According to the court, Mr Stewart took an advance of $2m from the Rio for the New Year's appearance. He is now being ordered to pay back just over $3m, including interest for the intervening years. His lawyers were told to pay an additional $153,483 in contempt-of-court fines and legal costs for failing to turn over information to the court before the case went to court last year.

At the time of the trial, when Mr Stewart took the stand, the singer's lawyers complained he had repeatedly offered to reschedule the concert for another date. They said the hotel never showed any interest in taking up the offer. "The man had cancer," the lawyer, Skip Miller, said last year. "He's now fully recovered and he's willing and able to perform the concert. They won't let him."

A lawyer for Harrah's, Kristina Pickering, called the judge's order to Mr Stewart to make the payments, "the right result" and "a long time coming".