Sir Elton to sue banker for £700,000 – after charity date 'no-show'

The pledge was allegedly made at the annual White Tie and Tiara Ball, held by Sir Elton and his partner David Furnish

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The Independent Online

A banker is at the centre of a £700,000 legal battle after being accused of reneging on a charity pledge to Sir Elton John.

Spencer Lodge, an investment banker based in the United Arab Emirates, is said to have placed the winning bid to spend a day with the singer and his partner, David Furnish.

The charity auction was held last year at a ball organised to raise funds for the Elton John Aids Foundation (Ejaf) but Mr Lodge has, according to a High Court action, failed to pay.

The £700,000 pledge was allegedly made at the annual White Tie and Tiara Ball, which has been held by the singer and Mr Furnish since 1999 at their home in Windsor to raise funds for the foundation. Sir Elton is backing the legal action and is reported to have been furious about the affair.

"Both David and Elton, and everyone involved with the Ejaf, are really angry about this," a source told the Daily Mirror. "Elton is not personally hounding the man and demanding the cash back but he is fully supportive of the legal proceedings to benefit the charity.

"The lot was a one-off opportunity to make his charity an astonishing amount of money. Organisers had actually secured another bid of £650,000, which, of course, they would have been delighted with.

"Initially there was a misunderstanding as Mr Lodge was changing lawyers but still nothing has been resolved, so that's why it has gone this far," the source added.

Mr Lodge, who owns an investment advisory business, is said to have made the charity pledge for a day out with Sir Elton and Mr Furnish that included visiting some of the couple's charitable projects in the UK.

Mr Lodge was unavailable for comment but his solicitor, Keith Pearlman, confirmed that "a claim has been received" and said the action would be "vigorously defended". He said he was "unable to comment further". More than 1,100 projects have been funded by the Elton John Aids Foundation in 15 countries since it was set up in 1992.

It has provided more than £40m in grants as it pursues initiatives designed to help people affected by– or at risk of – HIV/Aids. The help offered includes providing food, medical care, counselling, housing and legal assistance.

The White Tie and Tiara Ball raised £5.2m this year and since 1999 the event has raised more than £40m.

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