Thursday 29 September 2016

Irish 'Harry Potter' star ordered to pay €260,000 in commission fees due to his former agent

Devon Murray says he didn't spend all his €1million on 'women, cars and drink'

Tim Healy

Published 08/04/2016 | 13:25

Devon Murray in 'Harry Potter'
Devon Murray in 'Harry Potter'
Devon Murray with his parents Fidelma and Michael after the opening day of a High Court action taken by agent Neil Brooks. Photo: Collins

AN actor who played the role of an Irish student in the Harry Potter film series must pay €260,000 in commission fees due to his former agent, the High Court ruled.

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Devon Murray, who the court heard earned more than a million and spent money on drink, cars and girls, said after the case he also spent it on horses and property "but the arse fell out of that.

"It wasn't all women, cars and drink," he said.

He was "a completely naive child " when he entered the agreement with his former agent Neil Brooks, he said.

However, he said he would never trade his involvement in Harry Potter for the world.

He has found it very hard to get work since and he believes it may be due to the dispute with his former agent.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said in making the award against Mr Murray, who played "Seamus Finnigan" in the films, and against his parents Fidelma and Michael, he was sorry that things did not work out for Devon who made "a million or more which went on proceeds which were not very helpful".

Devon's mother said afterwards she was disappointed with the judge's decision and while they would try to pay the money, she did not know how they would.

Neil Brooks. Photo: Courts Collins
Neil Brooks. Photo: Courts Collins

She also said she did not see how an agreement lasting one year could stretch into ten years.

The Murrays had been sued by Mr Brooks who claimed he was owed €286,000 commission from Devon's work in eight Harry Potter films.

The Murrays had denied owing him the money and counter-claimed for €98,000 they said they had already paid him.

Mrs Murray had told court she didn't want to give out to her son about his spending on drink, girls and cars because he was their only child.

Mr Justice Moriarty said it was not disputed the agreement between the Murrays and Mr Brooks proceeded to their mutual satisfaction until there was conflict about the way Mr Murray was receiving his film fees, through Mr Brooks rather than directly to him.

This was the start of a decline in their relationship which came to a head when Devon was photographed smoking on the set, when he was just 13, and which led to adverse criticism including "a stern reproach" a senior executive of film makers Warner Brothers, the judge said.

The parties were now "seriously at loggerheads" with the mother unhappy at what she saw as the superficial handling of fallout from the smoking incident by Mr Brooks.

This seemed to have led to the family saying they would attend to their own arrangements with the film company and Devon also said, in his view, Mr Brooks had already "taken enough money" from him, he said.

The Murrays "felt gravely let down", the judge said, and believed they owed Mr Brooks nothing.

The judge referred to well known stories from the performance arts industry of management abusing the confidence of performers.  However, this  was not such a case.

He considered Mr Brooks to be a caring person who had advanced Devon's career when he became aware of his talent.

Mr Brooks's evidence more cogent and preferable to that of the Murrays and had been corroborated by that of two other agents who gave evidence of the way the film industry worked.

There was also evidence from a forensic accountant  in relation to Devon's earnings which, while he had a difficult task in compiling it, he found the accountant's later observations were "a little hypothetical".

He therefore was reducing the amount sought by Mr Brooks by nine per cent which gave a figure of €260,601.

He also awarded costs against the Murrays.

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