Singer Hucknall sees red over Irish hunting rights

AP News
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Posted: Dec 03, 2009 11:55 AM

Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall sued his Irish neighbor Thursday over disputed rights to hunt deer, ducks and other birds at their rival game lodges in Ireland's wild northwest.

Hucknall, 49, and Simply Red saxophonist Christopher De Margary say they bought the exclusive fishing and hunting rights to about 19,000 acres (8,000 hectares) of County Donegal land for euro1.3 million ($1.8 million) in 2005.

They set up a business, the Glenmore Rivers Sporting Estate, that caters to well-heeled hunters and fishers. But the proprietor of the game lodge across the River Finn, John Wilde, insists he already owns those rights and has challenged Hucknall's gun-toting guests to get lost.

Hucknall's lawyers supplied an affidavit Thursday from the Mackie family attesting to their 2005 deal, which permitted the Simply Red star to build a hunting lodge and launch the business on the vast Glenmore Estate. But from the start, the Wilde family on the far side of the river said the Mackies had already given their Cloghan Lodge the exclusive right to hunt there.

Judge John O'Hagan in Letterkenny Circuit Court, northwest Ireland, said the four-year dispute would "likely take years to sort out." He adjourned the case to Dec. 11 to hear Wilde's side of the story.

Hucknall lawyer Peter Nolan said his client wanted Glenmore and Cloghan to coexist peacefully and do business on their own separate banks of the Finn. He said Hucknall simply wanted a guarantee that Wilde would stop harassing his guests.

"We're happy to undertake not to interfere with Cloghan if we get a similar undertaking from Mr. Wilde in relation to Glenmore," Nolan told the judge.

Staff and guests of Hucknall's lodge _ which offers direct access by helicopter and chartered jets so that hunters can bring their own weapons into gun-controlled Ireland _ have complained of verbal harassment from the Wildes while stalking animals.

Over a 24-year career atop Simply Red, the Manchester, England-born Hucknall has delivered a range of pop and soul chart-toppers, including his singles debut "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)," "Holding Back the Years" in 1986, and 1989's "If You Don't Know Me By Now."

Hucknall also owns an Italian estate and produces wine under the label Il Cantante, "The Singer."