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» BREAKING NEWS, GUEST RUNDOWNS » ALI CAMPBELL SUED BY HIS BROTHERS, AS UB40 LEGAL CASE REACHES HIGH COURT!

ALI CAMPBELL SUED BY HIS BROTHERS, AS UB40 LEGAL CASE REACHES HIGH COURT!

Robin and Duncan lodge claim for damages after sibling set up own group, using famous name.

 UB40 stars Earl Falconer, Jimmy Brown, Norman Hassan, Brian Travers and brothers Duncan and Robin Campbell at the Eagle and Tun pub in Digbeth
UB40 stars Earl Falconer, Jimmy Brown, Norman Hassan, Brian Travers and brothers Duncan and Robin Campbell at the Eagle and Tun pub in Digbeth—

The former lead singer quit the chart-toppers in 2008, which led to sibling Robin, 61, inviting their brother Duncan to replace him.

But legal action began after Ali set up his own UB40 group – featuring Mickey Virtue and co-frontman Astro – which sparked an acrimonious family fall out.

Robin, Duncan and their four other original members are now suing their rivals for damages at the High Court, where they want judges to rule they own the ban name.

Their barrister Edmund Cullen QC, said they were recognized by fans as “the true continuation” of the group who topped the charts with songs including Red, Red Wine.

UB40

UB40

But Ali and his bandmates say it is THEIR UB40 that the public really want to see. They are currently on a tour using the name ‘UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue’, and are due to play London’s O2 next month.

The Brummie reggae-pop superstars sold 120 million albums, and had three UK and two US number one singles, in their heyday.

But the hitmakers split after hitting financial and personal difficulties in 2008.

The move also triggered a family rift between the three Campbell brothers.

And the bitter financial fall out later saw the liquidation of UB40’s management company, the sale of its back catalogue and a rash of bankruptcies amongst band members.

Ali Campbell's UB40 performing at Night at The Park 2015
Ali Campbell’s UB40 performing at Night at The Park 2015

Ali and his band, argued Mr Cullen, are “seeking to exploit for themselves” the “substantial goodwill” built up by the original UB40 since the split.

He told the court that the war between the band’s founders had even moved online, with both sides claiming the right to use the www.UB40.co.uk website.

Ali and his band claimed they had an exclusive right to publicise themselves on the fansite and had “disabled” the original group from using it, the QC claimed.

“Prior to this, the website had been used by the band for nearly 20 years”, said Mr Cullen.

The court heard that, in their early days, all the band members were “employed” by their production company, which has since gone bust.

Mr Cullen said they had all agreed that they had “no rights whatsoever” in the UB40 name and would stop using it if they ceased to be a member.

The company, DEP International Ltd, has been in liquidation for years, but Ali and his band say they were “assigned” all of its rights in June last year.

That included its goodwill, the website and the trade mark in the UB40 name, and the trio say they have acted entirely within their rights.

They are as much UB40 as the band they left behind and the claims against them are groundles and should be dismissed out of hand, they argue.

However, Mr Cullen pointed out that the band had long ago sold its back catalogue to raise cash, leaving DEP a mere shell “with no business to sell”.

Ali Campbell

Ali Campbell

Ali’s band should be “prevented from using the name UB40” in any form and ordered to give up the profits made from exploiting the original band’s goodwill, the QC said.

The court heard that, after Ali left, the remaining members kept touring as UB40 and diverged from their reggae roots by releasing a country influenced album in 2013.

But the members of the dispute burst into flames in 2014 as Ali began to tour himself with Astro and Mickey, at first using the name “Ali Campbell’s UB40.”

Ali was quoted condemning the release of the country album as a betrayal of the band’s reggae roots and “the final straw.”

Barristers for Ali and his band argue the case should be “struck out”, claiming UB40 had ceased to exist in legal terms in 2008.

They added that Ali and Astro are, to fans, the real faces of UB40 and much more in demand that the group they left behind.

The court has now reserved its decision on the case and will give its ruling at a later date.

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