Legal battle over 'lost' Britten images

A FORMER freelance photographer who captured images of composer Benjamin Britten at the height of his fame is seeking more than £100,000 in damages after claiming a Suffolk charity lost them.

A FORMER freelance photographer who captured images of composer Benjamin Britten at the height of his fame is seeking more than £100,000 in damages after claiming a Suffolk charity lost them.

Clive Strutt, of Carlton, near Saxmundham, is involved in a High Court battle with the Britten-Pears Foundation over negatives of images of Britten and his lifelong companion Peter Pears.

He accuses the Foundation, based at Aldeburgh, of losing or destroying negatives of the pair, and is seeking damages of up to £150,000.

In a writ issued at London's High Court and just made publicly available, he is claiming damages for, among other things, breach of contract and negligence in respect of the missing negatives.


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Although the writ does not specify the level of damages claimed, it indicates that lawyers value the claim, if successful, at up to £150,000.

Mr Strutt was a young freelance photographer based around Leiston in the late 1960s when he was chosen by Britten to take a series of shots of himself and Peter Pears as they relaxed at home. Afterwards, he continued to do work for Britten and at the Aldeburgh Festival.

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The Britten-Pears Foundation is a charity which promotes public knowledge and appreciation of the musical works and writings of Britten and Pears, and the tradition and principles of musical education and performance developed by them. It also runs the Britten-Pears library, and promotes knowledge and appreciation of music and the arts generally.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Strutt, a former EADT photographer, said he did not want to talk about the detail of the claim at this stage.

But he added: "Obviously, the photographs are of great value because these particular photographs were taken at the time when Britten was probably at his most productive and most famous and I was very lucky to photograph him, but I'm equally saddened that these negatives have gone missing."

Richard Jarman, general director of the Britten-Pears Foundation, said: "We are in negotiation. We are working through it. It's in the hands of our various lawyers."

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