Bono And The Tug-Of-Love Stetson

Dublin High Court was given a personal insight into how Bono wanted to present himself to the world in “an ironic sense” during the intriguing case of the tug-of-love Stetson.

It centers on a hat that Lola Cashman, U2’s former stylist, claims the band gave her along with some other memorabilia during the Joshua Tree tour in 1987.

Giving evidence under his real name (Paul Hewson), Bono told the court that the trademark Stetson hat had been his idea and he’d had it before Cashman started working with the act.

“It was always part of my idea of how I wanted to present myself to the world in an ironic sense,” he explained.

It seems Cashman has had the items since she left the band’s employment in ’88 and, two years later, put some of them – including a signed album cover – up for auction at Sotheby’s.

In 2002, she put the rest of the memorabilia – which had originally included a pair of metal hooped earrings, a green sweatshirt, a pair of black trousers and the hat – on sale with Christie’s.

This time, she received two letters from U2 lawyers seeking the return of all the items. Cashman said they were all gifts, while the band’s lawyers are saying that she took them without consent.

In the years that followed the Joshua Tree tour, Cashman wrote an unauthorised account of the behind-the-scenes life, although the book – more rock ‘n’ roll than sex and drugs – made very little impact.

Last year, the band successfully sued for the recovery of the hat, the earrings, the sweatshirt and the trousers. Cashman was given seven days to return them but launched an appeal that will have legal costs way beyond the value of the items. The Independent said that, after 19 years, “the question of ownership might be viewed as old hat.” But both parties seem determined to pursue what the paper described as a “trivial” matter.

Cashman has also started a second action in the London courts, claiming the contents of the 2002 lawyers’ letters are defamatory to her.

– John Gammon