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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 20:05 GMT
Jackson complains to TV watchdog
Michael Jackson
Jackson said he trusted interviewer Martin Bashir
Michael Jackson has complained to television watchdogs about a controversial documentary which he claims "utterly betrayed" him.

The singer's lawyers have written to the Independent Television Commission and the Broadcasting Standards Commission, saying he was "unfairly treated".

Living With Michael Jackson, which was broadcast on ITV1 on Monday night, featured a series of interviews by Martin Bashir, who spent eight months with the star.

Michael Jackson
I am surprised a professional journalist would compromise his integrity by deceiving me

Michael Jackson
Jackson's legal team also claimed the programme was an infringement of his privacy.

The pop star, 44, has been widely criticised since revealing on the programme that he shares his bedroom with children.

After watching the documentary on Wednesday, he said he felt "more betrayed than ever before" and accused the show of being "a salacious ratings chaser".

Jackson said his trust had been betrayed because the camera crew kept filming his children against his wishes.

The statement said Bashir had promised Jackson the footage would be taken out of the final edit.

"I trusted Martin Bashir to come into my life and that of my family because I wanted the truth to be told," Jackson said in his statement.

'Deceit'

"Martin Bashir persuaded me to trust him that his would be an honest and fair portrayal of my life and told me he was 'the man that turned Diana's life around'," he adds.

"I am surprised a professional journalist would compromise his integrity by deceiving me in this way."

But Granada Television, which made the programme, denies this.

The documentary, made for the UK's ITV1 network, has also been screened in the Netherlands and Australia, and is being shown in the US on Thursday night.

Michael Jackson in 1972
The singer was taunted as a child about his nose
An estimated 14 million people in the UK tuned in to hear the reclusive billionaire superstar interviewed by Martin Bashir, best known for his 1995 interview with Princess Diana.

Bashir followed the singer for eight months, interviewing him several times and spending time at his Californian ranch, Neverland.

During the interviews, Jackson told Bashir that he saw nothing wrong with children sleeping over at his Neverland mansion.

He revealed he has formed a close friendship with a 12-year-old boy who regularly spends the night there.

Jackson also made a series of disclosures about his life, his appearance and his three children: five-year-old Prince Michael I, four year-old Paris and baby Prince Michael II.

Fans' support

Referring to a notorious incident in Berlin last year, he insisted there was nothing wrong with dangling his baby son over a hotel balcony, saying he had enjoyed it.

Jackson fans have hit back at the criticism against their idol.

Fan organisation MJ News International has launched a campaign encouraging fans "to write to sections of the media that are being unfair to Michael".

Debbie Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and the mother of his two children, told UK breakfast TV station GMTV on Thursday: "He's a really wonderful, loving, caring man and he's not portrayed as he really is.

Martin Bashir
Bashir was "chasing ratings", Jackson claims
"There could be no other person that could be a better father."

Psychic Uri Geller, who helped set up the interview, told BBC News 24: "I'm upset, I'm angered, and I feel for him."

A spokesman for Granada said: "We stand by our programme - it is a truthful, open and intimate portrayal of many aspects of Michael Jackson's extraordinary life.

"There has been no distortion, misrepresentation or breach of trust. Martin Bashir agreed with Michael that we'd make an honest film about his life and we've fulfilled that promise.

"Michael is a controversial figure with many critics. It's not surprising that a film about him, which is so open and revealing, draws some hostile reaction and comment about him.

"It's regrettable that Michael should feel devastated as a result of that, but perhaps inevitable."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Jackson is said to be devastated by the inferences of the programme"
Gaynor Morgan
A UK mother whose 10-year-old son is to visit Jackson at Neverland speaks to Radio Five Live
Uri Geller, friend of Michael Jackson
"He is very upset, I am upset and I feel for him"
See also:

06 Feb 03 | Entertainment
05 Feb 03 | Entertainment
05 Feb 03 | England
04 Feb 03 | Entertainment
04 Feb 03 | Entertainment
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