Former Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten has lost a High Court battle with his ex-bandmates to stop the band’s music being used in a new TV show about the group.
The punk group’s former drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones had been wanting to use the music – but Rotten (real name John Lydon) had opposed the move.
In a court ruling at the High Court on Monday, Sir Anthony Mann found Cook and Jones were entitled to involve “majority voting rules” against their bandmate.
The six-part series Pistol, based on Jones’ memoir and directed by Danny Boyle, is due to be released next year by Disney.
Jones and Cook argued that under the terms of a band member agreement made in 1998, decisions regarding licensing requests can be determined on a “majority rules basis”.
But Mr Lydon, who has said he thinks the series is the “most disrespectful s**t I’ve ever had to endure”, argued that licences cannot be granted without his consent.
His lawyers told the court the agreement had not been used and he considers it a “nuclear button” for the claimants to “impose their wishes” on him.
They said he had a “deep-felt and passionate aversion to becoming a ‘prisoner’ of a hostile majority” and in his evidence to the court, Lydon said the agreement “smacks of some kind of slave labour”.
Lawyers acting for Cook and Jones argued that Lydon breached the agreement by refusing to consent.
They argued the court should not accept his evidence as true because it was a “straightforward lie” and he could not “genuinely have believed the agreement was never effective”.
They told the court Cook and Jones’ claim is against Lydon alone, and that original band member Glen Matlock, who was replaced by Sid Vicious, and representatives of the estate of Vicious, who died in February 1979, supported their position.
The Sex Pistols were formed in 1975 and disbanded in 1978, but have performed live shows together a number of times since then, most recently in 2008.