Landlord wins £40,000 over cancelled Van Morrison gig

A pub landlord today won £40,000 High Court damages over the cancellation of a gig by rock star Van Morrison which he said brought his thriving business to the point of collapse.

Gary Marlow had sued the 57-year-old singer and his production company, Exile, for up to £400,000 over the cancellation in August 2002 at The Crown Hotel, Everleigh, Wiltshire, which had previously hosted concerts by Peter Green and John Mayall.

But Mr Justice Cresswell ruled that he was entitled to only £40,000 - including the £20,000 advance fee paid to Exile.

Mr Morrison's counsel, Thomas Croxford, claimed that his side, which had paid £31,500 into court to settle the case and had made other offers far in excess of the judge's award, were still the "substantial victors" in relation to the amount of damages.

He said that he would ask for the bulk of their costs when the case returns to court tomorrow morning.

Mr Marlow said afterwards: "I would like to say that I am absolutely thrilled that we have taken on one of the kings of rock and we have won.

"Unfortunately we didn't get what we should have had but nevertheless we have beaten him."

His claim included the advance plus lost profits from tickets, alcohol, food and tobacco and damage to the business's reputation.

He said that turnover at the 17th century inn had plunged from £25,000 a month to £7,000 and he struggled to make a living.

Morrison and Exile denied any breach of contract and said the claim for compensation was unsubstantiated.

Mr Croxford said that the concert was cancelled at the beginning of July 2002 as a result of Mr Marlow, 44, breaching a crucial condition restricting publicity.

Mr Morrison is currently in Ireland and was not in court in London.

A statement issued afterwards by Mr Morrison's solicitor, Paul Tweed, said that the award was against Exile and that the judge had ruled that Mr Marlow had no claim against Mr Morrison personally.

He said that Exile had always been happy to return the performance fee and that damages recovered amounted to approximately 5% of the sum claimed.

He said that Mr Marlow now faced costs orders which would far exceed the damages awarded.

He said that this could all have been avoided if Mr Marlow had "adopted a reasonable and responsible attitude at the outset".