Ryan was found guilty of not updating driving records but tells Peterborough court the Covid pandemic has brought him no income
Lee Ryan, who scored three UK No 1s in both the singles and album charts as a member of boy band Blue, has said loss of income during the Covid-19 pandemic means he cannot afford to pay a £1,501 fine. to pay.
The singer was charged twice in August 2020 for exceeding the speed limit in a 60mph area in Peterborough. These charges were dismissed because it couldn’t be proven who was driving – Ryan said his girlfriend was using his car – but Ryan was found guilty of failing to provide information regarding the driver’s identification after failing to update his address with the DVLA. He had denied the charges and claimed that he had sent the necessary information.
The court acknowledged that the music industry had been “hardly hit” by the pandemic and fined him for a single violation. Speaking via an external link from Spain, Ryan told the Peterborough court that he couldn’t pay the fine, saying: “I just don’t have the money…I don’t have anything…I don’t work. I mean, they’ve stopped performing. I don’t have any gigs.” He said he spent all of his savings during the pandemic due to job losses.
He was also banned from driving for a year. He was warned he could face jail time if he didn’t pay the fine.
Ryan was a member of Blue from their inception in 2000 until 2005, when the group broke up and he pursued a solo career. They reformed in 2011 to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, finishing 11th. The band stuck together, releasing two more albums and continuing to tour.
Ryan has also starred in reality TV series and talent shows, including Strictly Come Dancing, Celebrity Big Brother and Celebs Go Dating, as well as starring in EastEnders.
His pleas during his magistrate trial highlight the difficulties pop singers face after fame. In 2018, Paul Cattermole, one of Blue’s early 00s pop mates who had nine Top 3 hits as part of S Club 7, sold his Brit Award on eBay for £60,000, citing “bills to pay”.
The pandemic also continues to severely impact musicians’ earnings. A report from industry association UK Music in November 2020 predicted musicians would lose two-thirds of their income during the pandemic.
A survey this month of 573 professional musicians by the Incorporated Society of Musicians found that a third of them had canceled work or had to cancel work themselves, even after the easing of pandemic restrictions in July. Nearly two-thirds of musicians said they had less work booked between July and September compared to the same period in 2019, showing that the recovery in the sector is slow despite the return of live concerts and festivals.
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