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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 14:48 GMT
Court ordeal for Charlotte
Charlotte Church
Charlotte could face a whole day of questioning
Schoolgirl singing star Charlotte Church is due to give evidence in a court case to defend her mother - then leave court to turn on London's Christmas lights.

Cardiff-born Charlotte, 14, will be called to give evidence as her former manager sues for compensation after being sacked.

The case is due to start on November 20 - and Charlotte has agreed to turn on the lights in London's Oxford Street the following day.

The clash of dates was sprung on Charlotte after her mother - who is now her new manager - agreed she would turn on the festive lights.

Sensitive questions

Charlotte will have to give evidence in the compensation case brought by her ex-manager Jonathan Shalit due to start in the High Court in London.

And the schoolgirl may have to spend up to a day in the witness box answering sensitive questions about the behaviour of her mother Maria, aged 34.

Shalit - who was sacked as Charlotte's manager in January - made strong allegations about Mrs Church, claiming she was a "pushy woman" determined to get her own way.

He will claim that Maria enjoyed flirting with the showbiz stars and that she "fell in love" with the lifestyle.

The 14-year-old soprano could give evidence to the 4m High Court case using a special video link to reduce the stress.

'Stressful experience'

In court papers, counter-allegations made by Mrs Church claim that Shalit once made lewd comments about Charlotte' chest and he once swore at her during a row over a plane ticket.

Charlotte's evidence is crucial to the court case but her youth and the need to protect her has been recognised.

Jonathan Shalit discovered Charlotte after he watched her perform on Jonathan Ross's big Talent Show in 1997.

Under his management she sold millions of copies of her first two albums throughout the world.

Charlotte - whose earnings total around 10m - has made many high-profile appearances and has sung for President Clinton, the Queen and the Pope.

Festive album

Shalit was sacked by the Church family in January amid claims of improper behaviour and he is suing both Mrs Church and her husband James, aged 36, for breach of management agreement.

The case is expected to last for two weeks.

Shalit will be the first person to give evidence before key witness Charlotte takes the stand for her mother.

The start of the case comes on the same day her new festive-themed album - Dream A Dream - is released in time for Christmas.

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See also:

05 Sep 00 | Wales
Charlotte show a damp squib
06 May 00 | Entertainment
Church wins Classical Brit award
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