Boy George to discover Celebrity Big Brother fate

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The Independent Online

Former Culture Club singer Boy George will know tomorrow morning whether he has been evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house before the programme starts.

The 48-year-old singer and DJ - real name George O'Dowd - is seeking at the High Court to quash a decision by the Probation Service banning him from the Channel 4 programme which begins on January 3.

He is currently free under licence after serving four months of his 15 month sentence for assaulting and falsely imprisoning rent boy Audun Carlsen, 29.

Mr Justice Bean, the judge hearing the case, said he would give his ruling tomorrow after hearing argument from lawyers representing the singer and the National Probation Service London.

Alison MacDonald, representing Boy George, told the judge today that the "internationally renowned singer-songwriter and DJ" was challenging the probation service's decision to revoke the permission given by his supervising probation officer allowing him to appear on the show.

She said the decision was based on fears that the service "would get another kicking" in the media if Boy George was allowed to appear and it would undermine public confidence in the justice system.

But she said the probation service licence was designed to monitor the singer's behaviour, protect the public and rehabilitate rather than punish him.

Boy George had admitted that heroin and other drugs had "got him into trouble" and that under their influence he had behaved "in an appalling way" towards Mr Carlsen, he deeply regretted it and "wholly deserved" his prison sentence.

But she said he now wanted to rebuild his career and reputation.

It would be wrong to punish Boy George by not allowing him to appear on Big Brother, she said.

Newspaper reports say he has already agreed a £200,000 fee to take part in the show.

Richard Clayton QC, representing the Probation Service, argued that allowing George to use the show to promote his status as a celebrity and earn "a lucrative sum of money" could undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.

It would also pose "a high level of risk" to the reputation of the London Probation Service.

Papers before the High Court describe how George handcuffed his victim to a hook next to a bed and Mr Carlsen, shaking and crying, thought he was going to be killed, but managed to escape from George's flat.

George had with him bondage equipment and Mr Carlsen said he was hit on the back of his neck and arm at least twice with a chain as he escaped.

The singer-songwriter was released on licence on May 11 and restrictions included "permanently residing" at an address approved by a probation officer, and giving notification of any approved change of address.

George, who is living in Hampstead, north London, was allowed to perform at Brighton Gay Pride on August 1 and to work as a DJ, and to give live performances.

But his request to be allowed to participate in CBB was rejected by Paul Wilson, chief officer for London Probation, on December 9.

Mr Wilson wrote to George: "While you remain on licence, I cannot condone an arrangement that would give you daily high profile media exposure over a protracted period of a month, while you are being punished for a crime that was traumatic for the victim."

The chief officer said this could be detrimental to Mr Carlsen as he might be reminded of the trauma.

At the same time it would "undermine confidence in the criminal justice system should it become known that while being punished for this offence, you were allowed to take part in a high-profile, controversial television production, that would promote your status as a celebrity and earn you a lucrative sum of money."

Mr Wilson said he noted Channel 4 assurances to "exercise carefully edited control" over the programme, but there would be no control over the content of news articles in the national media.