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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 13:42 GMT
Mystery surrounds Jackson UK trip
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson has vigorously denied the charges
Singer Michael Jackson is deciding whether to go through with a visit to the UK in the coming days as he prepares to fight charges in the US.

The star was formally accused of seven counts of child abuse on Thursday. His lawyers said the star was "irate" and would vigorously fight the charges.

Mr Jackson was also given permission to come to the UK over Christmas by Santa Barbara district attorney Tom Sneddon.

But his UK spokesman says the singer is not arriving this weekend as reported.

And he may not come at all, the spokesman, Peter Shackleton, told BBC News Online.

These are the kinds of decisions that Mr Jackson takes as it suits him, and we may not have very much warning
Peter Shackleton
Jackson's UK spokesman
"We've been told by our counterparts in the US that he's not coming this weekend," he said.

"The district attorney has given him leave to come should he want to between now and 5 January - so if he wants to come, then he wants to come.

"But these are the kinds of decisions that Mr Jackson takes as it suits him, and we may or may not have very much warning."

At the moment, they had "no notification that he's coming over", he added.

Mr Jackson will have his passport returned from Saturday 20 December to 6 January, and Mr Sneddon said he was allowed to fulfil two contractual agreements in the UK that pre-dated the arrest warrant.

Court spokesman, District Attorney Tom Sneddon
District Attorney Tom Sneddon has returned Mr Jackson's passport
One Labour MP, Mark Tami, has written to Home Secretary David Blunkett to urge him to refuse the singer entry to the country if he does make the trip.

"It is inappropriate for him to come here - he is facing serious charges. He's not been charged with shoplifting or something like that - he's been charged with serious sexual charges," he told BBC News Online.

"And particularly at a time when the whole issue of child welfare is at the top of people's minds."

But a Home Office spokesman declined to comment on what Mr Blunkett's response would be.

Mr Jackson's friend Uri Geller said it would be a business trip - but it was not going ahead at the moment.

Neverland
There are reports that Mr Jackson will return to Neverland
"It's just very erratic, and Michael makes his decisions in a split second," he told BBC News 24.

"So right now he's not coming - but who knows, 10 minutes from now, he will wake up in California and say 'I want to come to England.'"

On Thursday, Mr Jackson's US spokesman Stuart Backerman said he would travel, but added: "I'm not aware of any concerts or major performances scheduled."

And his official fan club, Michael Jackson News International, said he would definitely make a private trip.

"Michael is now free to travel over the Christmas period and will now be able to enjoy his Christmas, as planned, in the company of close friends," fan club president Gloria Haydock said.

Mark Geragos
There is not truth to any of this
Mark Geragos
Mr Jackson's lawyer
Mr Jackson is due to make his first court appearance in the US on 16 January and faces up to 24 years in jail if convicted.

He was arrested last month following a highly-publicised police raid on his Neverland Ranch in California.

The star, out on $3m bail, has called the allegations a "big lie" and will appear in court on 16 January.

Mr Sneddon, said that as well as the child molestation charges, Mr Jackson faced two counts of administering intoxicating liquor to a minor with the intent of committing a crime.

The charges accuse Mr Jackson of molesting a boy, who is identified in court papers only as "John Doe", between 7 February and 10 March this year.

The charges include a "special allegation" of "substantial sexual conduct", of which a conviction would make Mr Jackson ineligible for parole.

Michael Jackson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, reacted angrily to the charges, insisting his client was "unequivocally and absolutely innocent".

'Horrible'

"There is not truth to any of this," Mr Geragos said.

"There is absolutely no way that we will stand for the besmirching of this man with these horrible, horrible allegations."

He said Mr Jackson would fight the charges "with every fibre of his soul".

"He's not running, he's not hiding... he's as irate as I am."

Mr Geragos said the charges were motivated by money and revenge.


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The BBC's Robert Nisbet
"He'll appear in court on January 16"



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