HIS figure-boosting pills helped Glenda Gilson reach new heights in her modelling career, but now James Murphy has millions at stake as he fights a series of international legal battles.
He is staging a last-ditch battle against having to pay €15m to a Danish firm which claimed that a hair tonic he was selling was based on a stolen formula. In turn, Mr Murphy is himself suing a British entrepreneur for €3.6m in a battle over the same product.
James Murphy is the owner of Lifes2good and built up the firm Irish Response Ltd with a range of beauty products, enlisting household names to endorse them along the way.
Golfer Christy O’Connor Jr appeared on the Late Late Show extolling the virtues of a magnetic therapy marketed by Mr Murphy, who is one third of the Galway Tenors trio.
More controversially, model Glenda Gilson promoted Voluptuo’s 10-week ‘natural beauty enhancement programme for larger breasts’.
Now, in a €3m writ lodged in the London High Court, Mr Murphy is claiming damages against British beauty tycoon Simon Gook for alleged breach of contract and for damages over the sales of a hair-replacement tonic.
Mr Murphy claims that Mr Gook is selling the product, which combats hair loss, on his territory.
Branding the writ ‘totally unsubstantiated’, Mr Gook has vowed to defend it vigorously and is to lodge a counter claim for €750,000 in a few weeks.
Mr Murphy’s firm had exclusive rights for sale of the hair-loss drug Nourkrin for Britain and Ireland between 2002 and 2007.
His troubles began in October 2007 when Irish Response Ltd, which owns Lifes2good, tried to register a trademark for a new hair loss drug called Nourisea.
Danish firm Pharma Medico International, which held the trademark for Nourkrin, sued his firm.
Pharma Medico won a Danish High Court case after claiming that a manufacturing company it had used in the past was making Mr Murphy’s new drug ‘using trade secrets it had previously obtained through the manufacture of Nourkrin’.
Mr Murphy is appealing that case, but if he loses, he will be forced to pay 109m Danish Kroner, or €14.6m.
He was also ordered to immediately stop marketing of a slimming product, Slender. Company accounts for 2008 recorded that turnover dropped from €14m to €9.6m.
Meanwhile, he is suing British entrepreneur Mr Gook for selling the same hair-restoring formula on his territory.
Mr Gook, whose assets Mr Murphy has had frozen, said last night: ‘When that appeal fails, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will, Mr Murphy’s firm will end up in administration and a lot of people are going to be out of work.
‘As far as his action against me in the High Court in London is concerned, I am going to defend myself very vigorously against all of the totally unsubstantiated allegations being made against me by him.’
And he added: ‘I am simply not prepared to take this lying down. He’s gone too far.’ Mr Murphy declined to comment.
His solicitor Jeremy Hertzog of Mishcon de Reya – the firm which represented Lady Diana in her divorce from Prince Charles – said: ‘My client has a very strong claim against Mr Gook.
‘He intends to pursue it as well as meet any counter claims made against him.’
A few years ago, Glenda Gilson waxed lyrical about the virtues of Mr Murphy’s Voluptuo treatment, saying it had transformed her life.
She said in interviews that although her breasts were firm, they were ‘on the small side’. She said she had opted against undergoing a boob job because of the pain and the dangers involved.
‘I also didn’t want to end up with unnatural breasts. I wanted a bigger bust so I could do more lingerie and swimwear modelling.
It was a confidence thing.’ So satisfied was she with Voluptuo pills – she said they made her bra size increase from a Bcup to a C-cup – that she declared: ‘Taking Voluptuo has changed my life.’
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland was not, however, as happy with Voluptuo.
In 2007, it took issue with the research and ruled that the product should not be marketed at women in general.