Music

Former Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank sued for £ 650,000 for ‘failing to pay back loan to save Bestival’

Bestival boss ‘Rob Da Bank’ is being sued for over £ 650,000 after being accused of taking out massive loans to prop up the ailing festival and not paying them back.

The former Radio One DJ, real name Robert Gorham, ran the annual event – which featured stars from Stevie Wonder to Elton John and Snoop Dogg – after founding it in 2004.

But a court heard it was ‘not well-managed’ and even before its eventual demise after the 2018 event had frequently been on the verge of disaster, with repeated cash crises.

The 2018 festival, headlined by MIA and London Grammar, almost had to be canceled because he was unable to pay for portable toilets and was only saved by a last-minute £ 249,000 cash injection.

The former Radio One DJ, real name Robert Gorham, refused to pay back a loan to stop Bestival 2018 from getting canceled, a court heard

The former Radio One DJ, real name Robert Gorham, refused to pay back a loan to stop Bestival 2018 from getting canceled, a court heard

And he is now being sued by ticket seller, TicketLine Network Ltd, which says it personally loaned Mr Gorham about £ 1million to keep it going, but he then refused to pay back about £ 650,000.

The company says it loaned the money directly to Mr Gorham and a co-director to ‘save the day,’ because they were not confident their money was safe if loaned to the Bestival company.

The co-director, John Hughes, has accepted the loans were made to the pair of them and that they have to be repaid – but Mr Gorham is fighting the claim in a ten-day trial at Central London County Court.

He claims he never agreed to a personal loan and should not have to pay it back.

Bestival was an annual music festival, which began in 2004 on the Isle of Wight and later moved to Lulworth Castle, Dorset, featuring some of the world’s top musical artists.

It was founded by Mr Gorham, who at the same time presented several regular shows on BBC Radio One and had filled in for John Peel, hosting his program for weeks after his death in 2004.

The festival eventually collapsed after the cancellation of the 2019 event, with the company behind it ‘collapsing into insolvency,’ the court heard this week.

Outlining the case against Mr Gorham, TicketLine’s barrister Paul Burton said the Bestival Group of businesses had suffered ‘numerous cashflow emergencies.’

‘The contemporary documents reveal’ crisis-management ‘, as the business lurched from one near miss to another,’ he told Judge Alan Johns QC.

‘A good example of this is …. on the first day of a three-day festival the group lacked the funds even to pay for basic amenities.

‘But for the injection of £ 249,000 from TicketLine, the whole event would have been canceled.’

The barrister said TicketLine often advanced cash to event organizers to run festivals, then profited by taking a cut from the ticket sales.

But he said it had been ‘well aware’ of Bestival’s financial problems and, when it came looking for cash in 2016, offered to loan money to its directors instead, to provide extra security.

‘By the first quarter of 2016, the group had cash flow problems and identified a need for an injection of approximately £ 1.5 million to enable it to continue to trade,’ he said.

The 2018 festival, headlined by MIA and London Grammar, almost had to be canceled because he was unable to pay for portable toilets and was only saved by a last-minute £ 249,000 cash injection

The 2018 festival, headlined by MIA and London Grammar, almost had to be canceled because he was unable to pay for portable toilets and was only saved by a last-minute £ 249,000 cash injection

‘TicketLine had a high degree of visibility of the group’s financial position. It was not prepared to advance anything like the sum required on an unsecured basis, with repayment being recouped from ticket sales. ‘

Instead, it agreed to lend £ 750,000 to Mr Gorham and Mr Hughes, who would be liable to pay it back – but Bestival had soon come back cap in hand again, he claimed.

‘Notwithstanding the claimant’s injection of £ 750,000, the group was soon back at crisis point and desperately short of funds,’ he said.

‘As Mr Gorham himself put it in March 2018’ * we’re on the brink * ‘.

‘The group staged an event at Lulworth Castle on 3 to 5 August 2018. The claimant provided ticket sales services.

‘Once again the group had a cash flow crisis. Unpaid contractors were demanding payment, failing which they would withdraw their services and the event would not be able to open to the public. ‘

He said Mr Gorham, Mr Hughes and others had been left ‘desperately ringing round in an attempt to raise funds,’ with TicketLine agreeing to contribute £ 249,000.

‘There was an concluded oral agreement for him and Mr Hughes to borrow £ 249,000 so that it could be deployed by the group and literally save the day,’ he said.

Mr Burton said only £ 350,000 of the first loan was repaid and none of the second and that TicketLine now wants the £ 649,000 still outstanding, plus interest, back.

‘There can be no doubt that at the time of the first and second loans, the group had an urgent need for funds,’ he said.

‘Nor can there be any doubt that the financial interests of the defendants were bound up in the group and its business.

Bestival was an annual music festival, which began in 2004 on the Isle of Wight and later moved to Lulworth Castle, Dorset

Bestival was an annual music festival, which began in 2004 on the Isle of Wight and later moved to Lulworth Castle, Dorset

‘The evaporation of [TicketLine owner Paul] Betesh’s patience can hardly be doubted, but it too is clear from the documents.

‘To put matters bluntly, the defenders were desperate for cash and Mr Betesh was losing confidence.

‘As the defendants noted in their email exchanges, they had little if any choice.

‘The solution to the impasse was obvious. Who suggested it doesn’t matter. There is nothing unusual or complicated in their agreement.

‘The claimant would only make the first and second loans available if the defendants were liable to repay. If the monies could be repaid by the group, so much the better, but this does not affect the agreement the defendants made.

‘On an objective assessment of all of the dealings between the claimant and the defendants, it is clear they entered into agreements for the first and second loans.’

Mr Burton said Mr Gorham’s defense to the claim was a ‘bare denial of the material facts’ and, when asked to confirm, DJ’s barrister Jonathan Miller said:’ Our case is that it was not a personal loan – and what they say happened , didn’t happen – in a nutshell. ‘

Giving evidence, Mr Gorham told the judge that he had not been heavily involved in the financial side of the company, with other employees dealing with that side of the business.

‘This was a multi-million pound, very busy business, with me driving the customer-facing side and the artists, a whole raft of things in the festival world,’ he said.

‘The finance and accounting was not my department.’

He added: ‘I never signed up for a personal loan.’

The trial continues.

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