Comedians and agents have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after a promoter failed to pass over the box office takings.
Cox, the comic ‘mindreader who can’t read minds’, recently won a county court judgement for just under £2,000 plus costs against Dawson – and branded the promoter’s behaviour ‘sickening’ and ‘disgusting’.
He said he was forced to take legal action after the Southampton-based promoter failed to engage in any correspondence over the cash, which represented Cox’s share of ticket sales, expenses such as fuel and van hire, and the wages of his tour manager.
However, Dawson still failed to pay up – and when court-appointed bailiffs went to his house to take items to cover the debt, they found an apparently empty house.
Cox said: ‘After two years a judgement has passed in my favour, but sadly Dawson still avoids paying me the money owed.
‘It sickens me that a promoter and fellow performer would happily take the money from venues to fund their own lifestyle or pay their own debts rather than pass it on to the performer who worked so hard to make the tour a success.
‘I, in good faith, put many tour expenses such as fuel and van hire on my own credit card expecting them to be paid back. Of course, just like the money owed for doing the shows, this has never happened.
‘It sickens me to see him still active on Facebook and Twitter knowing that he's just avoiding facing up to his responsibility.’
This is not the first time Dawson has run off with money owed from comedy shows. In 2008, he failed to pay promoter and agent Brett Vincent for eight shows his clients Carl Donnelly and Pete Johansson performed in the South of England.
Vincent said: ‘We’re owed about £6,000 and we’ve been trying to get Dawson to pay up for more than three years.
‘The gigs were all run badly, some even missing lights and microphone stands. They were all contracted with Picturehouse Cinemas who paid Jest Nation to book and run the shows. And when they paid up, Alex just kept the money.
‘I haven't had time to chase this in the recent months as I thought he had ceased trading but we are now going to pursue this again and make sure either Jest Nation ceases to trade and Alex Dawson is run out of the entertainment business.'
And his lawyer said: ‘We know he was carrying on promoting other shows while protesting to us he had no money. We did not pursue a county court judgement but I’m confident we would have gone one had we done so.’
Jest Nation now appears to have ceased trading – the website has certainly expired – although on his Twitter profile, Dawson still describes himself as ‘comedian, promoter, tour manager’.
Dawson told Chortle his financial affairs were now in the hands of a specialist debt management company.
When asked if that meant he was hoping to repay any of the money he owes, Dawson said only: ‘The company I am dealing with will be contacting all creditors directly once they have fully assessed the available options to manage my debts.
‘Once this has been done they will become the main point of contact for creditors.
‘Until a plan is in place I'm afraid I am unable to give any further indication on how this will be resolved.’
John Ainslie of performers’ union Equity admitted there were only limited options for comedians trying to get back their money once the county court judgements had been made.
Ainslie, who is the union’s south-east regional manager and provided ‘invaluable’ help to Cox in his case, said bailiffs only had limited powers to recover the debt.
‘The court appointed bailiffs may not always be as persistent as one might wish,’ he said. ‘Their function is to enforce court orders, not to act as private eyes or “skip chasers”.
‘They will attempt to enforce the orders at the addresses they have from the claimant but are neither required nor equipped to seek people out beyond that.’
‘There are other alternatives for trying to enforce payment but they all rely on knowing, at least, where the debtor lives and probably other details about their lives, businesses, etc. They also carry court fees which, in such cases as this, you are very unlikely to get back from the debtor. As a result we tend only to invoke them in the largest of claims.’
Cox said: ‘I feel bad for Alex that he ended up in a position of being unable to make his payment, but if he had not avoided all contact and been honest and open throughout I would have happily come to an agreement to make it work. I very much doubt I'll ever get the money back, but hope that making this public this might ensure that this happen to any other act.
‘We perform in good faith that we will get paid, and to avoid making that payment is nothing short of disgusting.’