In 1989, drummer Mike Joyce, started legal action against Morrissey and Marr to get the full 25% of past and future Smiths royalties that he claimed he was owed as part of a verbal contract with the band.
The case reached the high court in 1996 and after 7 weeks he won the case.
In his ruling Judge John Weeks called Joyce ‘honest’ and Morrissey ‘devious, truculent and unreliable’.
Morrissey appealed on the grounds that it was unfair to make a decision based on a character assassination, but he lost.
Devious, truculent and unreliable is often cited as if it’s the legal verdict:
It’s one thing to hear Morrissey obfuscating with the press, and being his playful self. But to see him grilled by a barrister is something else. Because you can’t play pop-star games in the same way, and with the rhetorical flourishes that you normally do, because it just doesn’t work in the high court. It’s just straight question and answer. And where Wildean wit would work in an interview context, in the high court they just come back to you again and again: ‘Would you please just answer the question? (Johnny Rogan, Irish Times, January 2012)
And Morrissey has never let it go, obsessively talking about John Weeks to journalist Lynn Barber in 2002, calling the NME devious, truculent and unreliable after a disastrous interview in 2007, and devoting around 50 pages to the case in his autobiography.
In one particularly gruesome article he was accused of exploiting children:
During the trial, it emerged that Morrissey had forced an agreement on members Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke to only receive ten percent of profits each … without actually telling them. When Rourke was trapped in a heroin addiction and in desperate need of cash, Morrissey then forced him to waive future claims to his fair share in return for a quick cash injection to feed his monkey (that’s slang for addiction, not an actual pet monkey). Oh, plus there’s the fact that when the band started Morrissey was a fully grown man of 23, while the other members were teenagers barely out of high school. If there’s a better word than “devious” for describing a man who rips off teenagers for tens of thousands of dollars … no, there isn’t.