Peter Hook sues New Order, claiming they 'pillaged' the group's name

Former bassist claims he has lost more than £2m after the remaining three members licensed the group’s name to a new company

Peter Hook is suing his New Order ex-bandmates for “many millions of pounds” in the high court, accusing them of secretly “pillaging” the group’s name and starving him of cash.

The bassist says he is already £2.3m out of pocket owing to his “former friends” in the group. He claims they have asset-stripped the New Order name, keeping him in the dark about what they were up to until the move became a “fait accompli”.

A new company that the trio of Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert set up has generated an income of £7.8m in four years, but Hook receives a tiny fraction of that, the court heard.

Hook’s barrister, Mark Wyeth QC, said: “It was as though George Harrison and Ringo Starr had got together at George’s house one Friday night and had acted together to divest Paul McCartney of his shareholding in the Beatles, and didn’t tell Yoko about it either.”

New Order insist they have treated Hook, who last played with the band in 2007, fairly and that his stake in the band’s royalties is reasonable. They say his campaign will achieve nothing – apart from threatening all of them with “potentially disastrous” legal bills of close to £1m.

However, Judge David Cooke has now cleared Hook of acting out of “spite” and opened the way for him to pursue his complaints to a full trial.

The court heard the former bandmates are now so estranged that they cannot even agree whether New Order split or the bassist just left.

The judge said there had been “vitriolic criticism on both sides”, but rejected claims that Hook’s “true motive” was to get back into the band.

The case hinges on events in 2011, when the remaining three members of New Order formed a new company, which Hook claims was kept secret from him. All agree that he was not present when the other three resolved to licence the use of the New Order name to the new company for 10 years.

Hook says the move exiled him from his musical past and cost him a fortune. He is only receiving 1.25% of the band’s royalties and other income from merchandising and performances, but says he should be getting up to 12.5%. Wyeth said his former bandmates’ “clandestine” move had already cost Hook £2.3m by October last year, and his losses are continuing.

However, David Casement QC, for the band members, said they had acted “entirely reasonably” and described Mr Hook’s complaints as “completely misconceived”.

Judge Cooke ruled that there was “at least a reasonable prospect” of Hook proving that he is not getting a fair share of royalties and other income.

The legal costs of fighting the case in court would be £900,000 or more, but the judge said that, if Hook wins, his damages would also be “potentially substantial”.

Urging the ex-bandmates to compromise, Cooke concluded: “I strongly urge the parties to seek to resolve the issues between them by entering into some commercial negotiations so that they do not incur the expense of pursuing this matter to trial.”

The band issued a statement on Monday saying they were “disappointed” that Hook was pursuing the claim “in this particular way”.

They added: “We’re getting on with life and concentrating on touring and promoting our new album.”

New Order – minus Peter Hook – are currently undergoing something of a renaissance. Their new album, Music Complete, reached No 2 in the UK charts, making it their highest-charting album domestically since Republic in 1993, and No 34 in the US – a position bettered only by Technique and Republic. Their recent live shows, meanwhile, received rave reviews. “Just when it was needed, they have delivered us a profoundly life-affirming evening,” wrote the Guardian’s Ian Gittins of their show at the Brixton Academy, London.

Staff and agencies

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