The Monty Python team were not "unpleasant shifty people" trying to do others out of their just deserts, the High Court has heard.

Three Pythons – Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin – sat alongside each other as their counsel, Richard Spearman, QC, said they had no animus towards film producer Mark Forstater.

"These are not unpleasant shifty people trying to do people out of their just deserts.

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"They reckoned, and they were right, that he had already got a pretty good deal and here he was, coming back for more, which they weren't prepared to give."

Mr Forstater, who produced Monty Python And The Holy Grail, wants an equal share with the five surviving Pythons in profits from spin-offs of the 1975 classic film – especially the hit live musical Spamalot.

Mr Justice Norris has been told that it was the worldwide commercial success of Spamalot that appeared to have led to a cut, in 2005, in the size of Mr Forstater's share of the profits from Grail spin-off merchandising, which he had enjoyed for almost 30 years.

Counsel Tom Weisselberg said the film producer was entitled under an agreement in 1974 to equal treatment with the Pythons – but the Pythons said they could not recollect any agreement. The case continues.