In the High Court in London today, Sheikh Abdulla Al Khalifa’s representatives began proceedings against Michael for alleged breach of contract.
The Sheikh presented evidence to Mr Justice Sweeney of various payments made to Michael on the understanding that he would repay the money from proceeds of an album, containing some songs written by the Sheikh, an amateur songwriter, and a biography and a musical stage play. Michael also recorded a song written by the Sheikh which was intended to be a charity single for the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami.
But Michael is contesting the claim, insisting there was no valid agreement and that the Sheikh’s case is based on “mistake, misrepresentation and undue influence”. In his pleaded defence, Michael says the payments he received were “gifts” and that no project was ever finalised.
While the Sheikh has given evidence of payments to Michael the press is speculating on the amounts and their purpose, and inferring that the timing of the transfer of the title deeds of Neverland to the Sycamore Valley Ranch Company may be suspicious.
It is listed for trial before a High Court judge although it was thought the claim would be settled before any trial began.
The security staff at the Royal Courts of Justice are preparing for the chance that Michael could appear at the courts but nothing is confirmed at this time.