Jedward, the X Factor, Eurovision and Celebrity Big Brother stars, were in the High Court in Dublin on Wednesday for the start of legal action against them.
Patrick Joseph Noonan, a businessman, alleges that he lost more than €625,000 after reaching a merchandising agreement with the twins and their parents, including, he claims, €250,000 when he was unable to sell a Jedward board game.
He is taking a case for breach of contract against John and Edward Grimes, who are both 26 and from Dublin, and their estranged parents, John Grimes and Susanna Condron. All the defendants, represented by Desmond Murphy SC, were in court – a small number of Jedward fans sat outside – and all deny the allegations.
Mr Noonan claims that, in a series of meetings with one or both parents that began in 2011, it was agreed that he was to be reimbursed for costs relating to sourcing and developing Jedward merchandise, including jigsaws, wristbands, board games and a magazine.
The businessman said that he was able to arrange the first meeting as a result of knowing John Geehan, a first cousin of John Grimes snr. His memo of it, at his home in Limerick in August 2011, described the twins as "lovely lads (hyper)".
He said he understood that he would be working for Jedward, “the bosses”, and that he would be paid. They had talked about board games, which he was assured the twins would promote via their website, tweets and a newspaper column.
His memo also recorded that the twins appeared “to lose interest” after about an hour and started “running around the house” and eating fruit.
Mr Noonan said that he spent his own money on the merchandise before two limited-liability companies were set up and that he was told he would be paid for what he spent. He also took steps in 2011 to ensure the name Jedward was protected on behalf of the twins.
Earlier, opening the case for Mr Noonan before Mr Justice Donald Binchy, Patrick O'Reilly SC said Jedward did not make their "best efforts" to promote the merchandise. What is certain, he said, is that Mr Noonan paid for all of the items and had not received "one cent" for them.
The Jedward merchandise remains stored in a facility in Co Donegal, and a dispute about payment for storage led at one stage to some merchandise being put out on the street briefly, he said.
At no time until the pleadings were entered had the defendants said they did not have to pay Mr Noonan, contending that a joint venture was to be run through two limited-liability firms and that any loss was the two companies’, not Mr Noonan’s.
Counsel argued that it was agreed Mr Noonan’s costs would be reimbursed because Jedward were contractually bound to Bravado – a merchandising company owned by their record label – and could not enter any other agreements.
The case continues on Thursday.