November 29, 2018 | by James Greene, Jr.
Last month, the Linköping District Court in Sweden dismissed a lawsuit against Ghost leader Tobias Forge brought against him by four ex-group members who claim they are owed a significant amount of profits and royalties. Now those four musicians are requesting a new trial as they believe the judge who presided over the original case, Henrik Ibold, had a conflict of interest — Ibold and Forge are allegedly both involved with Svenska Frimurare Orden, or the Swedish Order of Freemasons.
"It must have been impossible [for Ibold] to objectively and impartially assess the probative value of the information that Tobias Forge has provided," the plaintiffs' attorney Michael Berg wrote in court documents. Speaking with Swedish newspaper NT, Ibold admitted he'd heard "rumors" about Forge's Freemasonry but did not know for sure that the singer was a member of the secretive order.
The Göta Hovrätt, one of Sweden's appellate courts, is still deciding if the case should be retried. The four musicians at the heart of this dispute — Simon Söderberg, Mauro Rubino, Henrik Palm, and Martin Hjertstedt — are believed to have spent nearly 3 million kronor ($330,000) so far in their legal battle against Forge.
Forge has said that "no legal partnership" ever existed between him and these departed players, who in public were only ever known as the Nameless Ghouls, and that they were paid a fixed salary to act more or less as session musicians.
Forge's identity as Ghost's demonic Pope-like singer Papa Emeritus was also a secret until the original lawsuit filing, which forced him to expose the human inside the pontiff garb. Interestingly enough, Forge saw this experience as a positive, telling The Pulse of Radio that the identity reveal helped him "reclaim what is mine and also justify that it was mine to begin with."
Ghost is currently on tour with four new members (plus two to three apparent holdover Nameless Ghouls), promoting their disc Prequelle, which was released in June.