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Judge has the last laugh over agent

AN entertainment agent from Solihull has been ordered to fork out £7,500 after a Government agency took him to court over unpaid artists’ fees.

AN entertainment agent from Solihull has been ordered to fork out £7,500 after a Government agency took him to court over unpaid artists’ fees.

Les Hemmings, who traded under the name of Hemmings Leisure Ltd, was hit with a £7,500 bill after failing to pay his employees for their performances, in a case brought by the Government’s Employment Agency Standards inspectorate.

Hemming, whose agency is based in Waterside Heights, Dickens Heath, was fined £2,000 by a district judge at Solihull Magistrates Court, as well as being ordered to pay back over £3,500 in unpaid fees to a comedian, three musical acts and a magician, along with £2,000 in costs.

Comic and former television quiz show host Tom O’Connor was one of those compensated, for not receiving the fee owed to him by Hemmings Leisure after a corporate awards dinner in Solihull.

Mr O’Connor, who received £1,300 said after the case: “I’m delighted that this dispute has been resolved. I hope that this acts as a warning to any other promoters who are tempted to hold on to artists’ fees.”

Jon Cox, a musician and member of the band Groove Machine, got back £1,400.

He had performed in Stratford-upon-Avon but Hemmings refused to pay his fee.

Mr Cox said: “I’ve been in the music business for 24 years, and this has never happened to us before. Performers like us work hard and can’t afford not to be paid.”

Terry McGrath of Eureka New Orleans Marching Band Jazz also won back money, while a magician and a country and dance act were also compensated.

Following the case Minister for Employment Relations, Pat McFadden said:

Cheating comedians and exploiting entertainers is no laughing matter. They have employment rights too and we will stick up for them. I am pleased to see the individual responsible has been brought to justice for what is a clear breach of the law.”

District judge Nigel Cadbury called Mr Hemming’s actions “serious deceitful, despicable behaviour and not the behaviour of an ordinary decent businessman”.

The Employment Agency Standards inspectorate acted after complaints from entertainers who had not been paid their full fees by Hemmings Leisure.

 

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