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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 21:30 GMT 22:30 UK
Church 'sexually exploited', AM claims
Charlotte Church
Church celebrated her 16th birthday in February
A Welsh Assembly Member has urged Wales's children's commissioner to investigate the "exploitation" of 16-year-old singer Charlotte Church being voted Rear of the Year.

Labour AM for Clwyd West Alun Pugh - who is also deputy education minister - said he was "appalled" to see the Cardiff schoolgirl being awarded the title last week and has accused her record company of engaging in "sexual exploitation".

We do not accept that Charlotte Church has been exploited in any way

Sony Music

First Minister Rhodri Morgan added to the condemnation by describing the accolade as "somewhat unsavoury".

On receiving the award last Wednesday, Church herself said that giving her the title a couple of months earlier when she would have been aged 15, would have been inappropriate.

"I just think that because I'm 16 I'm allowed to get awards like this now - when I was 15 it would have been seen as sick," she told a newspaper.

Mr Pugh said school-age children needed protection from marketing executives who used sexual images to boost business.

In a debate during the plenary session on Tuesday, he told colleagues: "I was appalled to see her record company engaged in sexual exploitation."

Charlotte Church
Church believes the award would have been "sick" two months earlier

"School age children need protection from marketing executives who think it is clever to trade in sexual images.

"I have asked the children's commissioner for Wales to investigate and report on this matter."

Mr Pugh also urged the showbusiness industry to "look at the way it conducts itself on that dividing line between childhood and adulthood".

But Charlotte Church's record company, Sony Music, did not agree that the Cardiff singer had been exploited.

A spokeswoman said: "Charlotte Church is a uniquely talented singer and has one of the finest voices of her generation.

"It is on these qualities that Sony Music has marketed her.

"We totally agree that exploitation of minors is wrong and we do not accept that Charlotte Church has been exploited in any way."

See also:

24 Feb 02 | Wales
Church flies Olympic flag
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