Ex-spy settles 'Fifty Dead Men' dispute

Martin McGartland waives moral rights over film

TORONTO -- After weeks of sturm and drang, producers of an IRA drama based on the life story of a former British spy have settled a legal fight ahead of Wednesday's Toronto world premiere, and all it took was 20,000 pounds ($35,000).

Martin McGartland, the subject of Canadian director Kari Skogland's "Fifty Dead Men Walking," said Monday that he signed an agreement in London in which he waived his moral rights -- a legal construct in the U.K. and Canada that protects authors from having their life stories distorted -- and agreed not to obstruct the film's release.

"As a result, I can now confirm that I am happy with the film," McGartland said.

The tipping point came down to money. On Friday, McGartland walked away from a deal proposed by the producers that offered him 10,000 pounds if he waived his rights. It is understood that McGartland agreed to end any threat of legal action after the producers doubled their offer Monday.

Securing that signature ends a long-running war of words between McGartland and the movie's producers, Britain's Future Films and Handmade International, and Canada's Brightlight Pictures.

"We are delighted that we have reached a resolution regarding the issues surrounding the film and we look forward to the movie's continued success in the market in the next few months," Future Films' Stephen Margolis said, speaking on behalf of his producing partners.

The legal threat from McGartland had cast a pall over efforts by Handmade International to sell "Fifty" in Toronto.

The former IRA infiltrator, as part of his agreement, stated that he will not stand in the way of the sales, marketing and distribution of the Canadian-British co-production, or litigate in the future.

The wrangling surrounding "Fifty" has, on the other hand, stirred media interest in the world premiere. Toronto festival organizers added a third press and industry screening of the film to its schedule, beyond the customary two screenings.

In the IRA informant drama, Jim Sturgess plays McGartland as a young Catholic man in Belfast moving up the ranks of the IRA as he feeds information to his British Special Branch handler (Ben Kingsley).

McGartland left the London lawyers office Monday with a DVD of Skogland's final cut, which he viewed before he gave two thumbs up to the movie.

"I have to say that Jim Sturgess and Ben Kingsley, and others, have done a great job. Jim and Ben are true icons," McGartland said.