Monday 18 December 2017

'Harry Potter' star 'gutted' he must pay €260,000 to agent

Devon Murray (centre) pictured with his parents Fidelma and Michael at the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts
Devon Murray (centre) pictured with his parents Fidelma and Michael at the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

An actor who appeared in the Harry Potter film series must pay €260,000 in commission fees due to his former agent, the High Court ruled.

The court heard Devon ­Murray earned more than €1m from the films and spent the money on drink, cars and girls.

He 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. Mr Murray said he was "gutted but there's not a lot we can do now" about the outcome of the case.

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 made the award against Mr Murray, who played Seamus Finnigan in the films, and against his parents Fidelma and Michael.

He said 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.

She also said she did not see how an agreement lasting one year could stretch into 10 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.

This led to adverse criticism including "a stern reproach" from 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.

He said 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. 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 was 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. He found the accountant's later observations were "a little hypothetical".

He therefore was reducing the amount sought by Mr Brooks by 9pc which gave a figure of €260,601.

He also awarded costs against the Murrays.

Irish Independent

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