- Peter Andre was accused of fabricating evidence by a High Court judge
- Gave evidence in dispute between TV producer Neville Hendricks and ITV2
- Andre had alleged his manager, Claire Powell, had received death threats from Mr Hendricks
- ITV2 ordered to pay Mr Hendricks’s company ‘substantial damages’ which could run into millions
Strictly Come Dancing star Peter Andre was branded a ‘liar’ and accused of fabricating evidence by a High Court judge yesterday.
Andre, 42, had been called as a witness in a bitter contract dispute between his former reality TV producer Neville Hendricks and television channel ITV2 over shows featuring the singer.
Giving evidence in the case at the High Court in London during the summer, Andre had alleged his manager and friend, Claire Powell, had received death threats from her former boyfriend and business partner, Mr Hendricks.
Strictly star Peter Andre (pictured on Wednesday) was yesterday branded a ‘liar’ and accused of fabricating evidence by a High Court judge in a case by his former producer Neville Hendricks (right)
In his sworn evidence, Andre said he had been told by Miss Powell that Mr Hendricks had threatened to kill her and to ruin the singer’s career following the stormy end of their relationship, which involved ‘scurrilous and vitriolic’ tweets on social media
Andre, who has been widely tipped to win this year’s Strictly Come Dancing show, said she ‘was shaking when she told him’ about the alleged threats, and that he had also felt physically threatened.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Flaux ordered that ITV2 must pay Mr H TV Ltd, the company owned by Mr Hendricks, ‘substantial damages’, expected to run into millions of pounds after ruling that the channel’s termination of the production agreement amounted to a breach of contract.
Peter with his manager Claire Powell, who was previously in a relationship with Mr Hendricks
And in his ruling, he was scathing about the claims made by Andre during the case, branding the star ‘an extremely unsatisfactory witness’.
On some issues Andre’s evidence was ‘not truthful’ and his death threat allegations were ‘a complete fabrication’, the judge ruled.
He said: ‘I am quite satisfied that no death threats were ever made by Mr Hendricks against Miss Powell or against anyone else.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Flaux (pictured) was scathing about Andre’s claims, branding the star ‘an extremely unsatisfactory witness’
‘That leaves two possible explanations of Mr Andre’s evidence: Either Miss Powell lied to him and told him there had been death threats when there had not, or his evidence is a complete fabrication.
‘Obviously, I have thought long and hard before reaching this conclusion about a well-known entertainer who is in the public eye.
‘But I have concluded that this evidence has been made up by Mr Andre.’
The legal battle was fought over an ITV2 production agreement dated December 9 2010 for shows involving both Andre and former Atomic Kitten singer Kerry Katona.
The Andre agreement was for three years and related to the Peter Andre: The Next Chapter series – which initially focussed on his marriage to model Katie Price and then his life after their divorce, as well as another series, Here To Help.
At that time Ms Powell had been manager of both Andre and Katona, and her company CAN Associates worked in close association with Mr Hendricks, said the judge.
As well as being business partners, Mr Hendricks and Ms Powell had an ‘on and off’ relationship for some years. They had a son together who was six in 2011 when, in May that year, their relationship ‘deteriorated considerably’.
The judge said: ‘What appears to have particularly incensed Mr Hendricks was the discovery that Ms Powell had taken her latest boyfriend, Mr Drew Rush, who worked for the security company employed by Mr H TV, with her to Dubai during filming of a calendar shoot with Mr Andre and other clients and that they had been conducting their affair whilst his six-year-old son was around.
‘He assumed that other people, including Mr Andre, had known about the affair but kept it from him.’
By the beginning of June 2011, it was clear that Ms Powell was looking for an opportunity to replace Mr Hendricks as the production company for the Peter Andre programmes and told ITV2 Andre ‘had issues’ with Hendricks.
Around the same time, on June 17 2011, the management agreement between Ms Powell and Katona came to an end ‘in somewhat acrimonious circumstances’.
As well as being business partners, Mr Hendricks (left) and Ms Powell (right) had an ‘on and off’ relationship for some years. They also had a son together who was six in 2011 when, in May that year, their relationship ‘deteriorated considerably’
Primetime star: Peter is currently starring on Strictly Come Dancing with professional Janette Manrara
The judge said the popular press picked up a rumour, which was untrue, that Katona was having an affair with Mr Hendricks.
‘He considered, with some justification, that this rumour was being generated and spread by Claire Powell or people who worked for her or with whom she was on good terms.
‘Ms Katona then consulted Max Clifford who, before his recent disgrace, was the supremo of celebrity management and he ensured that the rumour ceased.’
The rumour and Mr Hendricks’ anger about Ms Powell’s affair with Mr Rush led Mr Hendricks on June 23, 2011 to open a Twitter account entitled @TheNevCan.
‘Within a short period of time he was in communication with two other twitter users, @LLuke33 and @KMaddock, neither of whom has been identified but both of whom appear to have been sufficiently close to Ms Powell and her circle of friends, including Mr Andre, to have been able to tweet intimate details of their private lives, often in the most scurrilous and vitriolic terms”, said the judge.
The legal battle was fought over an ITV2 production agreement for shows involving Andre. The agreement related to the Peter Andre: The Next Chapter series – which initially focussed on his marriage to model Katie Price (pictured with him in a publicity shot for their show) and his life after their divorce
In his sworn evidence, Andre (pictured on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here) said he had been told by Miss Powell that Mr Hendricks had threatened to kill her and to ruin the singer’s career
Mr Hendricks himself ‘tweeted some pretty unpleasant tweets’ over the period from June 26 to August 172011 – ‘most of his bile was reserved for Ms Powell’, but there were a few tweets directed at Mr Andre.
Efforts to resolve the row failed and Mr Andre’s solicitors wrote a letter to Mr H TV’s solicitors saying Mr Andre ‘wanted no further dealings whatsoever’ with Mr Hendricks or his company.
The judge said it was that letter which ‘almost certainly’ led ITV2 to terminating the production agreement, alleging there had been a breach of ITV’s general terms and conditions.
Mr Hendricks’ production agreement also included reality television shows featuring Kerry Katona (pictured), who at the time was also managed by Ms Powell
ITV2 also sought to terminate the agreement on the ground that a proposal that Katona should appear on Celebrity Big Brother was a fundamental breach by Mr H TV of an ‘exclusivity obligation’ owed to the cable channel in the agreement.
The judge said Mr Hendricks was ‘an engaging personality’ and ‘an essentially honest witness’. He was one of the most respected producers of reality television – a ‘particular genre of television, which in a very real sense, he had devised’.
Mr Hendricks had admitted to being ‘a volatile character and often foul-mouthed’ – but, Mr Justice Flaux said: ‘I was simply not prepared to accept that he was capable of the level of violence ascribed to him by Mr Andre and Ms Powell’.
The judge added that while Mr Hendricks had made some very unpleasant threats in his tweets, he did ‘not consider that either Mr Andre or Ms Powell felt genuinely threatened by Mr Hendricks and I reject utterly any suggestion that he made death threats’.
In contrast, pop singer Andre’s evidence about the tweets was particularly unreliable, the judge said.
He added: ‘Whilst many of the tweets sent by Mr Hendricks were offensive and expressed in foul language, I reject Mr Andre’s suggestion that they caused him to fear for himself and his family.’
Mr Justice Flaux said the suggestion that ‘a grown man in the position of Mr Andre was genuinely scared by what was said in the tweets has to be viewed with considerable scepticism’, and the idea that the tweets were damaging to Andre’s reputation or image or brand ‘was another complete exaggeration’.
He said: ‘I consider that Mr Andre and Ms Powell used the tweets as a pretext, first to justify refusing to start filming Peter Andre: The Next Chapter series five and second to put illegitimate commercial pressure on ITV2 to terminate its contract with the claimant and use another production company.’
Mr Hendricks’ Mr H TV Limited sued ITV2, claiming damages consisting of lost profits estimated between £6million and £7million, as well as £549,060 under an outstanding invoice after the cable channel called a halt to him producing its reality shows in August 2011.
The cable channel counter-claimed that he was in ‘repudiatory breach’ of production agreement..
Mr Justice Flaux rejected the counterclaim and ruled that it was ITV2, not Mr HTV, that was in breach and responsible for ‘wrongfully terminating’ the agreement and therefore ‘liable for substantial damages’.
The judge added: ‘A number of aspects of the quantification of damages may require adjustment in the light of my findings’.