Sir Elton John and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin have been left "surprised" and "disappointed" by a "baseless" lawsuit accusing the pair of stealing the lyrics to their hit song Nikita.
Photojournalist/songwriter Guy Hobbs has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Illinois, claiming Sir Elton's 1985 chart hit, which features lyrics penned by longterm collaborator Taupin, bears striking similarities to his own track Natasha, which he wrote three years prior.
In his court papers, Hobbs claims he came up with the tune, about his love affair with a Russian cruise ship waitress, and had it copyrighted before sending it out to various publishing companies, including Big Pig - the firm which handles the Rocket Man star's songs.
But representatives for both Sir Elton and Taupin have denied the allegations, dismissing the suit as "completely meritless".
A statement issued to the New York Post's Page Six column reads: "Sir Elton John and Mr. Bernie Taupin were surprised and disappointed to learn of the lawsuit for copyright infringement brought against them by Guy Hobbs concerning the lyrics of their 80s hit Nikita.
"Sir Elton and Mr. Taupin do not know the plaintiff, nor did they make use of any song lyrics he claims to have written when they wrote Nikita. In short, the suit is completely meritless. The fact that Hobbs has chosen to wait more than 26 years after the release of Nikita to bring this lawsuit calls his motives into question. Sir Elton John and Mr. Taupin fully expect to prevail against this baseless claim."
Hobbs alleges it has taken him over two decades to take legal action because he moved to Africa in 1984.