LATEST: Mel Gibson has appealed to a Los Angeles judge to grant a privacy motion in his legal battle with the co-screenwriter of The Passion Of The Christ, in a bid to keep financial records about the 2004 film secret. Benedict Fitzgerald is suing Gibson, who directed the controversial religious epic, over accusations he cheated the screenwriter out of millions of dollars in potential earnings. He claims Gibson engaged in a "chronic and conspiratorial pattern of deceit" by telling him he was working on a project with a budget of between $4 million and $7 million (GBP2 million and GBP3.5 million). Fitzgerald alleges he was only paid $75,000 (GBP37,500) and that he had to borrow $200,000 (GBP100,000) from Gibson to cover expenses. The Passion Of The Christ went on to gross an estimated $600 million (GBP300 million) worldwide. In a court motion filed on Tuesday (01Apr08), lawyers working for Gibson and his Icon Productions company, which is also named as a defendant, are seeking to seal the movie's financial information, and only allow Fitzgerald's attorneys access to them. Gibson's appeal comes just days after he filed papers asking a judge to dismiss the fraud allegations filed against him by Fitzgerald. The two parties are due to meet in court for a hearing on 20 June (08).