John Lydon told a court that a contract made with his former Sex Pistols bandmates was “like a trap” and similar to “slave labor.”

The singer is being sued by guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook over his refusal to allow the band’s music to be used in a TV series. Pistol, based on Jones’ 2016 memoir Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol, is being directed by Danny Boyle.

Under the Band Member Agreement of 1998, decisions relating to managing the group’s interests are subject to a majority vote, Jones and Cook argued at a High Court hearing in London. But Lydon said all previous decisions had been made via “unanimous agreement,” including the opinions of former bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of the late Sid Vicious.

“I care very much about this band and its reputation and its quality control, and I will always have a say if I think anything is being done to harm or damage [it],” Lydon told the court (via the BBC and NME) after making his “trap” and “slave labor” references. “I don't want anything I'm involved in to victimize any one of us. It would destroy the whole point and purpose of the band, and so I don't understand the BMA ... I don't remember signing it.”

Lydon asserted Boyle had never tried to contact him about Pistol, a claim the director disputed. The singer – who previously called the project “the most disrespectful shit I’ve ever had to endure” – added that "the BMA has never been applied in anything we have ever done since 1998. … I don't understand how Steve and Paul think they have the right to insist that I do something that I so morally heart-and-soul disagree with without any involvement. My fear is that they're demanding that I agree to sign over the rights to a drama documentary that I am not allowed any access to. I don't think the BMA applies.”

He added that "there is no point in me being here or ever was if … I can just be completely outvoted by the vested interests of all in one management camp.”

Speaking earlier in the trial, Cook noted that Lydon could be “a difficult character and always likes to feel that he has control.” He said the majority-rule clause was never applied before because he “thought that our relationship with John would get worse when we used it.”

“Maybe Steve and I have been too nice to John over the years in trying to maintain good relations and that we should have been tougher," Cook said. "I am unhappy that he would behave like this over an important personal project for Steve, particularly as we have always backed his personal projects.”


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