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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Harry Potter star 'spent his film cash on drinking, girls and cars'

Harry Potter star Devon Murray is being sued for €286,000 (Collins)
Harry Potter star Devon Murray is being sued for €286,000 (Collins)

A child actor who worked on the Harry Potter films spent his earnings on drink, dates with girls and buying cars, the High Court has heard.

Devon Murray (27) also denied he had never told lawyers, who represented for the family until this week, about his dissatisfaction with the service being provided by Neil Brooks, trading as Neil Brooks Management, or that the first time it was mentioned was when he came to court.

Mr Murray, who played Seamus Finnigan in the Harry Potter series, was being cross-examined in an action by Mr Brooks for recovery of €286,000 in commission fees he said he is owed by the Murrays, who deny his claims.

Fidelma Murray, mother of Devon, in reply to a question from the judge about where all Devon's money had gone, said he had "gone drinking, taken out girls and bought cars - that is what teenage boys do".

She said she was not going to give out to him for that, he was their only child.

Security

The Murrays claimed they sacked Mr Brooks while Devon was working on the Harry Potter 3 film following an incident in which the boy, who was 13 at the time, was photographed smoking a cigarette.

They claim when they sought him to help them deal with subsequent adverse publicity, and to address the security situation over the taking of the photograph, he did not act. Mr Brooks said he was at the time helping his seriously ill sister.

Mr Brooks also said the incident over the smoking was the responsibility of his guardian.

He said the Murrays were unhappy with the arrangements while Devon stayed in London during filming, including wanting an apartment rather than the five-star hotel he was in and wanting his own driver.

Mr Brooks said he provided the apartment and that Devon wanted to be driven in a Lexus. Mrs Murray denied this.

When Devon said he wanted his own sound system for his dressing room, Mr Brooks said he did not agree as it would disturb the other actors.

Mr Brooks was being cross-examined by Mrs Murray. Mrs Murray said they had no money for solicitors.

Devon told the court that in the early days he had a bond with Mr Brooks because he was away so much.

However, by Harry Potter 3, there had been difficulties over when they were receiving cheques as well as problems getting in touch with Mr Brooks.

In 2003, the Murrays signed a new agreement where Mr Brooks' 12.5pc fee was to be increased to 15pc on the basis that Devon would get higher payment from the film makers Warner Brothers for his work.

Mr Brooks said he did this and Devon's fees went up from stg£20,000 and stg£30,000 for films one and two to stg£50,000 and stg£65,000 for three and four.

However, Devon told the court he found out that all other child actors got the same pay as part of a general across-the-board payment .

When the smoking incident occurred and Warner Brothers complained, both he and his mother rang Mr Brooks telling him he was fired.

"I thought an agent was going to be able to magically make this [adverse publicity] disappear, but I was wrong."

Under cross-examination by Gary McCarty SC, for Brooks, he said they had signed the 2003 contract without legal advice and felt they had to do it because he had made so many good friends on the set.

Asked was he saying he was he was forced into signing it, he said "yes".

Dwindled

He said he had been receiving fees for what are known as 'residuals' - money from DVD and other box office sales - over the years but they had at this stage dwindled to around stg£1,000 per month.

He said he had to rent out the house he bought to pay the mortgage and moved back in with his parents in Celbridge, Co Kildare.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said he would give a decision today.

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