Sad about the Boy

Judge talks of love and loss as Boy George wins libel case victory
It was, said the judge, a sad case: a story of love and loss. A youthful affair, "brief, passionate and turbulent", had meant the world to one of the lovers, but was denied again and again by the other.

And so Kirk Brandon, singer with the post-punk bands Theatre of Hate and Spear of Destiny, yesterday lost his claim in the High Court for malicious falsehood. It was directed at Boy George, the former Culture Club singer and now a DJ, who kissed and told in his autobiography, Take It Like A Man.

The writ, which claimed that Brandon's flagging musical career was damaged by stories of this gay affair, demanded damages from Boy George (aka George O'Dowd), his publishers Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd, Virgin Records Ltd and EMI Virgin Music Publishing.

Instead, the blond punk star, declared bankrupt in 1994, was ordered to pay some of the defendants' legal costs.

In the book, published in April 1995, Boy George detailed a short-lived but intense homosexual affair with Brandon, which ended in 1981 or so. His latest album, Cheapness and Beauty, also released in 1995, also contained a song, "Unfinished Business", which made reference to Brandon: "I hear you married a Danish girl ... You break your promise easily ... You lie, you lie, you lie, Yeah tough guy, you know exactly what I mean." Apparently it was the song, and its reference to Christina, Danish wife and mother of Brandon's 18-month-old daughter, Siff, that prompted the law-suit (for malicious falsehood, rather than libel, because that enabled Brandon to claim some legal aid).

Mr Justice Douglas Brown commended the plaintiff's behaviour in court and reputed talent on stage: "Mr Brandon is a decent man who has conducted his case in person with unfailing courtesy and no little skill." He said it was clear that Mr Brandon was "heterosexual, or in the current phrase, straight."

But, he continued, "I do not believe Mr Brandon. I am satisfied he has not been truthful about his physical relationship with Mr O'Dowd." By contrast, Boy George had come across as "a truthful ... impressive witness".

As he spoke, Brandon bowed his head. He and a friend had sat alone on the front bench of Court 25, Brandon reading from hand-written notes as he cross-examined the defence witnesses. There was no gesture of triumph from George, as the judge gave his ruling; he too looked sad, if relieved.

They must have made an unlikely couple, back in 1980. As George wrote of their early meetings: "Kirk was a true punk with slept-on hair, a combat jacket, jeans, and monkey boots. He talked socialism while I sucked beer through a straw to protect my lipstick."

But they fell for one another. "Sleeping with Kirk wasn't sex, it was absolute love," George continued. It wasn't all hearts and flowers, mostly because Brandon was uncomfortable with a homosexual relationship. George wrote: "[Kirk] denied being gay, preferring to think of me as a girl. I tried to live up to the role, telling everyone I was having a sex change."

The singer did not go into much detail about the affair in the book - it was only in the witness box that George delivered the juicy details to an appreciative press audience.

There was no anal intercourse, but much mutual masturbation, kissing and oral sex, George testified. Brandon, who conducted his own case, asked George if he approved of "outing" celebrities; George replied that: "I don't think you should be ashamed of what you are."

Boy George accused Brandon of homophobia. "I said in my book that you were very talented and I loved you. Where is the damage in that?" he said.

Brandon has vowed to fight on, and is planning to appeal the judgment. His wife looked calm and composed as she carried her daughter through the crowds of photographers.

Asked why he thought Brandon had brought the case, George replied: "Because he's nuts. I think he's insane." He added, "Kirk said he's not homophobic, but the whole action is homophobic. This is really a good day for gay rights."

Oscar, Jason, and how Liberace laughed all the way to the bank ...

Oscar Wilde must be the most famous homosexual defendant of all time, jailed for his proclivities in 1895.

Jason Donovan, though, is probably the modern world's most famous straight, having proved his heterosexuality in 1992 during a libel case against the Face magazine. However, the singer tried to emphasise that he was not upset by the charge of homosexuality, but that of hypocrisy. The magazine had insinuated that Donovan was a liar and a hypocrite for denying rumours of his homosexuality.

Since winning the case (and handing back the pounds 200,000 damages), Donovan has sought to make it up to the gay community; he gave a long, post-trial interview to a gay radio show and, last year, stepped out to host the Mr Gay UK contest.

David Ashby, then a Tory MP, must regret his day in court in 1995, when he lost a libel action against the Sunday Times over a report that he had shared a bed with another man while on holiday. It was forced to retract that story, but maintained that the MP was a practising homosexual. His wife, Silvana, whom he later divorced, did not help much, telling the court: "My husband fooled me for 28 years."

All this is a far cry from Liberace, who coined the phrase "laughing all the way to the bank" after suing the Daily Mirror in 1959 over an article alleging he was gay.