THE organiser of a music festival, once dubbed the Glastonbury of the North, has been forced to cancel the next event as he prepares for a costly trial.

Andrew Norman has been charged with permitting the use of cannabis at his Thimbleberry Music Festival, in Stanhope, County Durham, in September.

Mr Norman denies the charge and, on Friday, at Bishop Auckland Magistrates’ Court, he elected to be tried by a jury at crown court.

Meanwhile, the 51-yearold, who had thousands of pounds confiscated by police under the Proceeds of Crime Act, has cancelled his next event.

An announcement on the twice-yearly festival’s website says the June event is cancelled, but September’s is expected to go ahead.

Speaking from his home at Thimbleberry Hill Farm yesterday, Mr Norman said the cancellation was unavoidable.

He said: “The police have taken £3,513.70. Most of that money would have gone towards paying for the security and the toilets for the festival in June.

“It’s not just about the money though, a lot of work goes into organising the festival.

“I could just imagine organising the festival and then finding myself on trial the week before and I just can’t take that chance.

Now it its eighth year, Thimbleberry has established itself as a platform for unsigned bands.

Held on what is thought to be the site of a Viking settlement, the three-day event costs about £30,000 to stage and attracts music fans and performers from across the UK.

On Friday, Mr Norman was committed to appear at Durham Crown Court on March 12 for a pre-trial review and he was given unconditional bail.