Day 4 of the Ghost Trial Summary (No Spoilers)

No Copia due to Albert Hall gig


Note: we refer to Ghost’s frontman by his stage name, see this article for the reason why.

Welcome to The Metal Report’s second part of the coverage of day three of the trial which sees four former Nameless Ghouls suing Ghost‘s front man. Bold text is The Metal Report’s comments and are not a part of the proceedings.

Day one – Opening remarks
Day two – Opening remarks and Alpha/Fire testimony
Day three part 1 – Alpha/Fire, Air, Earth and Water testify
Day three part 2 – Cardinal Copia testimony

Want to discuss Ghost lawsuit and the people behind the masks? Join Ghost Uncensored on Facebook. 
You can get Ghost merch on Gear4Geeks

Ghost Lawsuit: Magnus Strömblad Testimony

Before questioning begins, new evidence has been admitted into the proceedings. It is important to note that all of today’s witnesses have been put forward by Cardinal Copia’s team to back his side of things. Tomorrow will be the witnesses who strengthen their case. Michael Berg, representing the Ghouls questions first.

  • Discussion of the October 4th 2011 meeting, they were present as was Sissi Hagald
  • He suggested the financial association. Copia contacted them later and said to create the association but a month later instructed them not to.
  • He didn’t have experience with American companies.

Questioning by Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk who represents Cardinal Copia.

  • Confirms that there can be different financial arrangements in bands, profit is not always shared equally.
  • Copia was in in charge of the finances and in their opinion Copia is Ghost.

Ghost Lawsuit: Sissi Hagald Testimony

  • Sissi confirms that she is Copia’s lawyer. She has 20 years experience in the music industry.
  • Copia contacted her in 2011 about a band he was in but then decided they should concentrate on Ghost instead.
  • He stuck her as being talented, she only represented him and not the others and didn’t know how the band was structured. To her the others were hired musicians.
  • Talk about the large costs of being in a band like recording, touring, marketing etc.
  • She saw how stressed Copia was, he would “do anything” to pay the band members as they were all struggling to pay their rent.
  • Says that the Ghouls were paid as paying them was a priority.
  • Money wasn’t to be shared equally as Ghost was Copia and the Ghouls played in other bands.
  • The Ghouls were paid a salary with a bonus system.
  • Copia didn’t suggest an financial agreement at the meeting and she didn’t hear talk of it, if she had she’d have objected to it.
  • As everyone was travelling together and were around each other all the time Copia wanted to be a decent guy when it came to agreements with the Ghouls.
  • An agreement was to be made about who had rights and it was mainly Copia who would have them. The agreement was never made though.
  • The Ghouls weren’t paid in 2011 but she thinks they started being paid in 2012 as they wanted guarantees of payment.
  • Each Ghoul received a payment and then a lump sum payment of 40,000 SEK (£3,390) as payment for 2011.
  • Copia was upset that he didn’t have the money to pay them.
  • A meeting was held where she explained how to write and submit invoices. She explained to the Ghouls that by having their own businesses they could deduct costs.
  • The bonuses weren’t profit sharing, they were for goals being achieved.
  •  An agreement was signed in 2016, one of the main points was that if the band jammed on the bus any material would be Copia’s copyright.

This may seem like a strange clause but it’s common for people in creative roles to be bound by similar terms, that anything created on their employer’s time belongs to the employer. 

  • Says there were no complaints, that Alpha asked if it was possible to have digital copies of the agreement but that was it.
  • The summary was that they were bought out and they came back to ask how much they would receive.
  • For the Stockholm gig they were on the guest list, Sissi believes that their lawyer never explained to the Ghouls that they were no longer a part of Ghost.

The agreement in question is the short term contract the Ghouls signed that was for the US & Canada tour running September 16th to November 11th 2016 meaning the gig they are referring to is the April 28th 2017 Stockholm show. Michael Berg now starts his questioning.

  • Doesn’t know if Ghost was a legal entity in May 2011. Ghost was not a company or a partnership.
  • At the beginning she wasn’t aware that there was anyone in Ghost other than Cardinal Copia. Later she didn’t know who the Ghouls were as they wore masks.
  • Berg presents the management contract with Rick Sales where the Ghouls are co signatories. Hagald doesn’t know what the contract means.
  • Says she didn’t go over the agreement from October, she just informed the Ghouls of it. She also says she had told them she was not their lawyer.
  • The Ghouls may not have understood as they didn’t seem to realise they had been fired.
  • Says she is unclear on the issue of a companionship agreement as she had used the term in an email but didn’t think she had. Her defence is that this was seven years ago and there were many agreements in place.
  • Confirms that on November 28th 2016 she sent an email stating there was no agreement in place with the Ghouls.

Ghost Lawsuit: Original Water Testimony

Questioning begins with Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk

  • He met Copia in 2006 and joined Ghost as the bass player in 2011.
  • Water wanted to record one album while Copia “wanted to take over the world”.
  • Water doesn’t like large crowds and didn’t want to play live.
  • There was no agreement in place between he and Copia.
  • On Alpha/Fire’s claim to have played drums on the recording, Water says that he didn’t. Alpha/Fire was a sound engineer only and did what Water and Copia told him to.
  • The line up for the first show in Germany was put together right before but Water wasn’t happy as he didn’t like the other musicians.
  • Says that the March 2012 meeting was regarding drivers and practical arrangements. When asked why the four Ghouls are here today, Water replies, “Greed, I suppose.”

Michael Berg now questions.

  • Says he wasn’t liable for paying the others as there was no money.
  • His understanding was that the other Ghouls really wanted to be a part of Ghost and so agreed to only be paid if the band made money.
  • A large number of gigs was booked, Water doesn’t know what the deal was regarding the Ghouls being paid for those shows as he let Copia handle it.
  • Says that the March meeting was about getting a manager in order to push the band forward.
  • Confirms that if the band made money it would have been split between members.

Ghost Lawsuit: Niels Nielsen Testimony

Niels was Ghost’s tour manager. Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk questioning.

  • Became involved with Ghost via Alpha, he wasn’t a tour manager but a sound engineer.
  • Was asked to play bass in 2011 and was asked in 2016 to play keyboards but by that point he hadn’t worked with Ghost in a long time.
  • He worked on the set and practical side of gigs. His financial dealings were with Copia only.
  • In 2011 the costs surpassed the income. Niels loaned Ghost $100,000 which he invoiced to Svenk Dramapop AB
  • Says that there were discussions but the final word was Copia’s.
  • Copia had an idea of how 2011 and 2012 would look. There was a meeting between Copia, Niels and a production engineer, but the Ghouls were not involved. Ghost had been asked to tour with In Flames and it was a very good offer but a very big step up for Ghost. The engineer and Copia convinced Niels that they should do it.
  • The Ghouls were not involved in these types of decisions, their involvement was playing live and this discussion was kept secret.
  • Niels is asked about Alpha, he says Alpha was in charge of the backing tracks and guitar amps. Says he was very helpful as Copia wasn’t able to record otherwise.
  •  Onto Air, Niels says he didn’t play at the first show but was involved in the second show.  He turned up, played and left. He was in meetings with the others and was sometimes involved in discussions via email.
  • Niels doesn’t believe he was at the March 2011 meeting
  • When asked about Earth who is involved in this lawsuit, Niels said that they used to play together and so recommended him. He is one of the two best drummers he knows.
  •  The Ghouls have said there was an April 2nd meeting in Linkoping. Niels disputes it as the band were on tour at the time, playing England on the 1st of April and then having a 20 hour journey home via France.

Niels is correct, Ghost played at the HMV Forum in London on April 1st 2012. 

  • There were a lot of gigs that year and they were low paying. Some of the Ghouls couldn’t take any more time off from their day jobs and nobody could afford it. It was discussed all the time how the Ghouls needed to be paid a salary and if merch sales were good then a bonus too. There were also discussions about what would happen if the band got big and made a lot of profit.
  • The band became suddenly popular and there was an urgency to record a second album.
  • Emergency solutions had been come up with to pay the Ghouls but money was an ongoing issue. A meeting was held to try and come up with a permanent solution.
  • If money was made on t-shirts then it was split between the band members but not always equally, it would depend on how much each person was doing. When the Ghouls were paid Copia would only sometimes be paid.
  • Omega was the one who raised band issues the most with Niels and was the band’s spokesman as far as Niels is concerned.

Michael Berg now starts questioning.

  • Niels didn’t receive any confirmation that everyone was a hired musician, nor any confirmation that decisions would be made equally.
  • Asked about the use of “our” in an email and if it meant the band Ghost, Niels says no, it refers to everyone involved.
  • He wasn’t aware of a meeting about finances where it was decided that shares of money should be rushed through.
  • When asked how the money was split from gigs, Niels says there was nothing left after the flights, buses and hotels were paid. There were discussions around what to do if the band made money, how much would be paid if someone was sick and missed a gig or if someone quit.
  • About the stipend that was applied for, Niels was aware of it and it was applied for on behalf of all six band members.
  • There’s a further discussion over the money because the form says that the band breaks even but the members all make a loss. Niels reiterates that there was no money after covering overheads. The money was to be paid into Svenk Popdrama AB, whereas Niels says that the money was for the six people.
  • Something needed to be put in writing but there was never a suitable solution.
  • Niels confirms that the idea was for profit to be shared but not necessarily equally but again, a solution couldn’t be agreed upon.
  • Confirms that Earth in this lawsuit was paid 10,000 SEK per month which was too low in his opinion.

Ghost Lawsuit: Biffen Jansson Testimony

  • At a gig in England Biffen asked Air what the point was of being in a band if no-one knows who you are and you can’t get women from it. Air replied that it was a joke as Copia took care of everything while the Ghouls could walk through town anonymously as the secrecy of their identities was taken very seriously at the time.

I believe the English for this would be, “it was a laugh”. The premise is that it was fun for Air as Copia did the work while the rest of them could relax and enjoy themselves. Biffen was the tour manager of In Flames.

  • Says that as far as he was concerned the Ghouls were hired musicians.

End of day four.


Tomorrow is the last day of the trial with Wednesday being booked in case the trial over-runs. The original Earth is scheduled to testify and there’s been speculation that Omega will testify but that’s unconfirmed. There are two Water Ghouls who could still testify, excluding Lady Water, but one of them is a relation to one of the Ghouls in this lawsuit.

The short term contract was acknowledged in the testimony of the Ghouls and it seems that they were under the impression that it covered the US tour and then a new contract would be drawn up, but the contract was actually ending their services on that date. Unless specified in a contract that it can or will be extended then it ends on the date it is up to and a new contract then has to be drawn up if both sides agree to do so. Ideally the new contract is signed in advance to prevent a break in the agreement between parties when the contract ends. If this was indeed the case then it seems like the Ghouls didn’t realise this and presumed they would receive a new contract before the next tour. That however would mean that they wouldn’t be paid for the off-time between touring, so it seems like there was definitely a lack of understanding if Hagald is correct. No new contract being offered to them before the existing one expired should have been a red flag.  Having read this contract, it ran from the 1st of November until the 11th of November and it outright states that the Ghouls were not a part of Ghost in paragraph 2 and paragraph 1 makes it clear that they weren’t being kept on beyond that date:

Ghost Contract

In fairness to the Ghouls, I haven’t read the preceding contract which could have been worded the same as paragraph one, so they simply presumed another contract was coming. Why the Ghouls would sign a contract stating they were only temporarily employed in a company they say they believed they were partners in is a mystery. Could you imagine Lars Ulrich agreeing to sign a contract making him a temporary member of Metallica?

Niels Nielson’s testimony comes across as very fair. He’s been stuck in the middle between the two sides as he is on good terms with both and he has seemed to be factual in his answers, when asked details that he was unaware of he hasn’t speculated and has said that he was unsure. It seems that people are seeing Niels’ interpretation of the Cultural Stipend application being for six people as a victory for the Ghouls as it is the first confirmation from a ‘Copia ally’ that Ghost was all six of them. However, the rest of his testimony states that they weren’t equals in the band and that profit sharing wasn’t intended to be equal so the stipend doesn’t make a massive difference. His testimony definitely seems to clarify that the original plan was for everyone to be paid a salary while also receiving profit shares but the pay wasn’t equal and the profit wouldn’t be either, something which undermines the equal partners 1/6th each argument. He also dealt with the “our” question well as Berg was presumably hoping to have the same success here as he did with Copia. His comments about the April 2nd meeting will undermine faith in the Ghouls’ testimony as he’s pointed out that the meeting couldn’t have taken place. Legally though if a part of a person’s testimony is false, the judge isn’t to dismiss all of their testimony as false so this detail alone won’t sink the Ghouls.

The tour manager’s testimony was for four minutes as he’d been brought in to relate that story of Air only.

With tomorrow supposed to be the final day, it could be the end of the Ghouls’ case or the beginning of more litigation over money.

Each Monday The Metal Report sends out a list of all stories, interviews, reviews and features we’ve posted for the previous week. You can sign up for it here

Andreas Schander has been covering the trial live for Linkoping News and this report is based on translations of his work. The only parts of his work that have been replicated exactly are reproduced in quotations.