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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 December, 2003, 08:38 GMT
Jackson party pulls celebrities
Michael Jackson
Support was expressed for the singer
About 600 people have attended a lavish party in support of singer Michael Jackson at his Neverland Ranch.

The singer has returned to his California estate for the first time since being accused of child sex abuse.

Friends, family, stars and sports celebrities turned out for the gathering, given the title "You are not alone", after one of Jackson's songs.

The guests included the tennis star Serena Williams, the former rapper M C Hammer and comedian Eddie Griffin.

Some of the guests hid their faces as they entered the estate, while others shouted out their support for the singer.

One sign stuck to a car read "Michael is innocent, leave him alone".

'Festive atmosphere'

Another guest, Sheree Wilkins, 32, of Inglewood, said she was contacted on Thursday by an assistant to Katherine Jackson, the singer's mother, about attending the party.

"That's Michael's style. When he wants to say thanks, he does it big and invites the people who care about him," she said.

Neverland
The party was held at the Neverland Ranch
"It's for family and friends to say thank you from Michael to people he loves and who have supported him," said Brian Oxman, a lawyer for the star.

"It's not a party. It's not a pep rally. It's not hoopla or celebration," he added.

On leaving, a friend of the singer said the mood inside was very festive and happy.

The singer will appear in court next month in Santa Barbara to answer seven charges of lewd conduct with a boy under 14.

He denies all charges. According to a spokesman, Jackson plans to travel to the UK for a few days over Christmas but he refused to elaborate on the reason for the visit.

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

But his UK spokesman told BBC News Online the singer may not come at all.

The star has two contractual agreements in the UK that pre-date his arrest warrant.




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