Monday, 18 November 2013

Revisiting 'One More Chance'

In addition to the huge amount of messages I received today about yesterday's blog entry, there were also some unexpected messages about another article I wrote back in 2010. I spotted fans were tweeting me about Michael Jackson's final music video 'One More Chance'. They reminded me that today - November 17 - is the 10th anniversary of the video shoot, which was abandoned halfway through, due to the infamous Neverland raid on November 18, 2003.

I told the story of the short film's creation and ruination three years ago, when the unfinished video was included in a DVD box set. The article was published on US news website Sawf News, which I recently learned has since been closed down. However, a copy is available on my website.

World Music Awards 2006 - Blog Reaction [New Video]

The response to yesterday's blog has been overwhelming. My blog stats tell me that thousands of people from all over the world - UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Canada, Australia and more - have read my memories of Michael Jackson's appearance at the 2006 World Music Awards. My Facebook, Twitter and email accounts have been inundated with messages of thanks, many from people who were at the WMAs ceremony and had never seen anyone tell the truth about the night's events before. It is a wonderful feeling, to be told that your work has moved somebody. It has been a very humbling day.

My friend Damien also messaged me, to say that the video I posted of the World Music Awards appeared to have been doctored; Jackson's vocals were quieter than they should have been. I had thought when I watched it that they were quieter than I remembered. He sent me an earlier edit of the ceremony, with different camera angles, in which Jackson's vocals are far louder. Listening to them with more volume and clarity serves only to further dispel the nonsense stories I quoted in yesterday's blog, which claimed he had 'mangled' the song and missed his high notes.

Here's the clip:

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Conjuring a Chorus of Boos; The Truth About Michael Jackson's UK Comeback

I feel compelled to write this blog today because as I sit here in front of my computer, it is seven years - to the day - since I experienced an epiphany of sorts about the media's coverage of Michael Jackson. I had followed his trial quite carefully, of course, comparing court transcripts to media coverage and being distressed by the horrendously biased reporting. But those reports were often at least rooted in fact. Journalists would misrepresent genuine testimony, in most cases simply 'lying' by omission.

What happened seven years ago was different.  I witnessed firsthand the construction of a purely fabricated story; one which shot around the world, once again making Michael Jackson a global figure of ridicule, and became immediately accepted as 'fact'. To this day, I read occasional press reports which mention this fabricated event as though it were an objective truth. It has even been listed as a significant career event in Jackson biographies.

Witnessing the creation of the myth was an experience that has stayed with me ever since. For an enthusiastic journalism degree student, it was a shocking and saddening insight into the media's more sinister machinations.

On November 15, 2006, Michael Jackson attended the World Music Awards at London's Earls Court Arena. It was his first official appearance in the capital since his acquittal in June 2005 and I was fortunate enough to be there. Some fans queued all day to secure prime positions in front of the stage but I had to go to university and then travel into London in the evening. Nonetheless, my friends and I easily claimed a spot against the front barrier, just off to the side, immediately beside the mixing desk. We spent part of the evening chatting to the sound and security staff, who tipped us off that they'd been in rehearsals and heard Jackson rehearsing 'that save the world song'. We met Katie Melua and got an autograph as she watched some of the show from the side of the stage.

It seemed like everybody was there for Michael Jackson. At any gap in the ceremony, chants of his name would erupt around the arena. Other performers on the bill included Enya, Beyoncé and Andrea Bocelli, but they mostly received tepid responses and their performances were often book-ended by increasingly loud chants of 'Michael! Michael! Michael!'

The night was plagued by delays. Lindsay Lohan, on hosting duty, fluffed almost every line she spoke and had to record all of her links multiple times. The turnaround between acts was slow. At one point there was a half hour or more of just nothing at all: an empty stage.

When Michael Jackson eventually appeared, to collect a Diamond Award for album sales over 100million, the place exploded. I have seen Paul McCartney. I have seen Madonna. I have seen Prince. I have seen George Michael. I have never in my life, before or since, witnessed any artist provoke the response that Michael Jackson provoked that night. He received the most sustained, thunderous reception I've ever seen.

He remained on stage for several minutes to deliver two short acceptance speeches - one for his Diamond Award and one for a Guinness World Record presentation. For the duration of his speeches, I hardly heard a word he said, despite the booming sound system. Most artists receive a big cheer as they walk onstage, then the audience settles down. Michael Jackson provoked hysteria. Shrieking and crying. It didn't lull once from the moment he appeared on that balcony until the moment he disappeared backstage again. It was an unforgettable sight.

He emerged again later for a brief performance of sorts. He walked onstage to another cacophonous reception as his record-breaking humanitarian single We Are The World played over the speaker system. He sang a few lines and seemed to look pleadingly towards the mixing desk. My suspicion is that the fans were making such a din he couldn't hear himself. It was like one of his concerts from the 80s. I saw bodies pulled from the crowd and rushed away in wheelchairs.

A few minutes later the sound people bizarrely turned the track off just as he started singing again. No matter. The place just went even crazier. It was an emotional moment, watching him receive such a rapturous welcome after the previous summer's events. After standing for a while on the runway that jutted out from the stage into the crowd, he began to exit, but as the cheering swelled - the audience not wanting to lose sight of him so quickly - he stopped and turned around. Playfully, he lifted a finger to his lips as if to ask the question, 'Shall I stay or shall I go?' The shrieking intensified.

He stood for a while, smiling, and just soaking in the adulation, then raised his fist into a triumphant black power salute. With that, he turned and coolly strolled off-stage, the applause continuing fiercely as he disappeared from view. I have never seen a human being cause such chaos. It was deafening.

You can watch a video of the performance here:

The following day I was back at university. As I walked along the corridor towards my first lecture, I met two female classmates. Looking at me pityingly, they asked: "How did it go?" I began telling them about the awe-inspiring reaction Jackson had received; how shocked I was at the scale of the outpouring. It had been one of the most incredible spectacles I'd ever witnessed.

I noticed they were now looking at me as though I were a crazy person. I asked them what was wrong and it transpired that the media was not quite reporting the night's proceedings as they had happened. Once I gained access to the internet, I discovered multiple publications were claiming he had been booed offstage.

"Michael Jackson walked offstage to a chorus of boos last night," the Mirror's Tom Bryant wrote. "The crowd, expecting a proper version of his song, booed the star who then scuttled offstage."

Scuttled offstage.

Watch the above video. Jackson not only does not 'scuttle offstage' to 'a chorus of boos' - he remains onstage long after his performance ends, absorbing the most emphatically positive reaction I've ever observed at an awards ceremony.

The Daily Record's Julia Kuttner wrote an almost identical story: "Michael Jackson walked off stage to a chorus of boos last night - just four lines into his first performance in the UK for nine years. Jacko had picked up a gong at the World Music Awards in London minutes before. But after singing only the chorus to his charity single We Are The World, he stopped to repeatedly tell the audience: 'I love you'. Jackson scuttled off the stage after he was booed by the crowd, who were expecting a proper version of the song."

The Evening Standard also got in on the action. Reporters Chris Elwell-Sutton and Valentine Low wrote: "His much-vaunted reappearance turned into an embarrassing disaster. His entire performance consisted of one mangled line, several missed high notes and an exit to a chorus of boos from the audience. 'I love you', he told them - although whether the feeling was reciprocated is open to question."

I was in complete disbelief. Had one rogue reporter claimed Michael Jackson was booed offstage, I wouldn't have been so angry. Every profession has its bad apples. But for multiple reporters to have attended an event at which Michael Jackson demonstrably and categorically was not booed offstage, yet to all then write articles claiming he was, demonstrated a clear conspiracy between multiple parties to fabricate and perpetuate a bogus story. 

That myth went around the world. Michael Jackson getting booed offstage became the biggest source of mirth on many a topical panel show and celebrity chat programme. It prompted further stories. The Guardian's Martin Hyde repeated the lies, declaring Jackson the 'ex-King of Pop' and claiming he had only managed a few lines 'before the booing began'. The Sunday Mirror captioned a follow-up story: "Plastic freak's comeback was truly diabolical."

Even celebrity publicist Max Clifford was hoodwinked into commenting on the bogus story, telling the Daily Record: "The one thing that always stood him in good stead was, as a performer, he was one of the greats. This week, he destroyed that image. The reports from the awards say he sang one mangled line, several messy high notes and exited to a chorus of boos. As a performer that was incredibly damaging, and that's all he's got left. I think Michael is probably beyond help."

Researching the story years later using newspaper archive service Infotrac, I discovered something very interesting; an earlier report from the Mirror which completely contradicted the fabricated version it later settled on. In at least one edition of the November 16 paper, a story by Eva Simpson and Caroline Hedley read: "He's back! Michael Jackson was the biggest winner at the awards where he gave his first public performance for nine years. The star was honoured with a Diamond Award for selling more than 100 million albums in his career. Hosted by Lindsay Lohan, the starstudded event at London's Earl's Court saw Jacko give a stunning performance of We Are The World. You sure are, Jacko."

So it would appear that at some point an editorial decision was taken that instead of continuing to report what had actually happened, the newspaper was going to rewrite the night's events to tell the exact opposite of the truth - and several other publications were going to do the same. 

It seemed to me that the media had already decided what story it wanted to tell about Michael Jackson's appearance in London - it was just an irritation to them that he hadn't played ball. When his appearance prompted a powerful outpouring of adulation - fans being rushed away in wheelchairs like the tours of his heyday - it didn't suit the industry's preconceived narrative. Certain figures were intent on Jackson being the 'ex-King of Pop'. When Earls Court actually went just as crazy for him as it would have done 20 years prior, it didn't fit - so they simply ignored that inconvenient turn of events and conjured a 'chorus of boos' from thin air. If Jackson wouldn't play his 'ex-King of Pop' role like a good boy, they would attempt to manufacture it. It was classic British tabloid muscle-flexing. 

The frustration and the sadness I felt that day when I observed this lie being willfully peddled, and the powerlessness I felt just watching TV presenter after TV presenter, comedian after comedian, recycle the nonsense for the consumption of millions who were not there and would never know it was all made up, bubbles back up whenever I remember the debacle. It was a sorry day for journalism - but the profession has had many of those where Michael Jackson is concerned. 

I'm not sure why I've never written anything about it before, but a friend posted a video from the event on Facebook earlier today to mark the anniversary. It was the last time I saw Michael Jackson perform live, but the memory is always tinged with sadness and frustration for what happened in the following days. It's about time somebody set the record straight on this particular fallacy. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bootsy Reboots on IndieGoGo

A few weeks ago I interviewed Bootsy Collins, who had launched a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter to pay for his new humanitarian-themed album and tour. Despite being one of the most sampled musicians of all time, Bootsy told me he was one step away from being a starving artist.

Here is an audio excerpt from our chat.

He has since moved his campaign away from Kickstarter, saying that many international fans were reporting problems trying to make payments. He has relocated to IndieGoGo. Rewards available to those who donate to the project include digital album downloads for just $1 andsigned copies of his new album and DVD for just $25. With those rewards at those prices, you'd have to be a loony not to donate at least $1.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Film Festival - Part One - 'Hanks for the Memories'

The London Film Festival is upon us once more. Those who have been following my blog for a while will know that I am a huge fan and avid supporter of the annual event, organised by the British Film Institute. In 2010 I was an official correspondent, covering the festival for two American websites - Sawf News and the Huffington Post. This year I am covering it for one of the UK's largest regional newspaper chains, the Yellow Advertiser.

My festival calendar kicked off on Wednesday with a press conference for 'Captain Phillips', the new true-story Tom Hanks movie about a US cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates. Mr Hanks was very funny, if somewhat unwilling to answer some questions seriously. He experienced a sustained grilling from Britain's cheeky showbiz reporters, but handled the onslaught well. I filed a report about the event last night, published today.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright: Charles Thomson

I took this picture at the press conference yesterday. For some reason, it looks like Tom Hanks is crying. He wasn't. It's just one of those funny moments where a camera catches somebody's face halfway through doing something else.

Here are some of my other shots:

Click pics to enlarge.
All pics, Copyright: Charles Thomson.

More on my festival adventures as and when more reports are published.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Last week I had the privilege of interviewing one of my favourite musicians. Bootsy Collins played bass on some of James Brown's funkiest and most dynamic tracks. He then took Mr Brown's philosophy of 'the one' over to George Clinton's Parliament / Funkedelic, where he worked on some of that collective's greatest tunes as well. By the late 70s he had gone solo, recording a raft of classic funk tracks. He has contributed to some of the greatest party anthems and hip-hop tracks of all time. His live shows are some of the most dynamic and exciting you could ever hope to attend.

Click to enlarge.
Bootsy Collins on stage in London, 2011.
(Picture: Charles Thomson)

Right now, Bootsy is running a Kickstarter campaign, where he is giving away signed merchandise and rare memorabelia to anybody who supports his new album and tour - both dubbed 'iGiveAFunk'. The project, inspired by the philanthropic work Bootsy has gained a passion for in recent years - would see him record a 'unity in the community' themed album and then travel the globe delivering its message. The plan was for the Kickstarter to raise $100,000 in 30 days.

Presently, there are three days left of the campaign and Bootsy has raised roughly 30% of his goal. Sadly, it looks unlikely that the project will be successful, short of a miracle. I'm not sure why. Bootsy toured Europe in 2011, playing to packed out venues all across the continent. He has thousands and thousands of fans. As part of his Kickstarter campaign, he is offering a digital pre-order of his new album for just $1. If all of his fans pledged for that alone - and you'd have to be a wally not to, at that price (about 65p in British currency - less than a KitKat bar) - he would meet his target with ease. He seems to have had trouble getting the message out.

I wanted to do the best I could to help him get that message out, so I organised a 40 minute phone interview. During our chat, I expressed my surprise that he needed a Kickstarter campaign in the first place. The comment led to a lengthy discussion about the music industry in general and the way it treats artists. Bootsy told me he was 'one step away from being a starving artist'.

I produced a 2,000 word article based on our conversation, published on my blog at the Yellow Advertiser - one of the largest regional newspapers in the UK. A short news story publicising the online contribution was published in over 100,000 newspapers. How many readers were funk fans, I don't know.

Click to enlarge.
Bootsy Collins on stage in London, 2011.
(Picture: Charles Thomson)

If Bootsy's Kickstarter campaign doesn't prove successful, I hope he will try again but spend a little longer on advance publicity it and give himself a longer fundraising period. I'm sure he has enough fans to help make it happen, just as long as they know about it.

That said, on a personal note, I am a little disappointed that some of Bootsy's more prominent fans haven't made more of an attempt to help him out. Some of today's biggest rappers have built songs around Bootsy's riffs; songs which have helped them become businessmen with globe-spanning, multi-billion dollar operations. Those Bootsy samples they used - he says they just about cover his bills. Snoop Dogg, who used Bootsy on his 2004 album Rhythm & Gangster, is worth a reported $100million. He could probably sponsor Bootsy's entire project without spending more than a few weeks' interest on his bank account.

Below is a 16 minute audio excerpt from our conversation.

Good luck Bootsy. I've already pledged all that I can. I hope you pull it out of the bag somehow. When you eventually do - I'll see you in London!

Ben E King Comes to Town

For reasons I can't even begin to fathom, music legend Ben E King decided to visit my local theatre last week. As a co-writer of one of the top ten highest-earning songs on the history of recorded music, Mr King, now 74, surely can't need the money.

However, I wasn't complaining. In fact, I booked tickets the moment I found out (front row, no less) and made the 10 minute journey from my front door to the theatre with pleasure. What an honour to have a genuine superstar of soul performing on my doorstep.

I reviewed the show for the local newspaper, which you can read by enlarging this image.

I met Mr King very briefly after the show. He was a true gentleman and signed a CD for me. Sadly, I didn't manage to pin him down long enough for an interview. Here's hoping he comes back and I get a shot second time around.

Monday, 26 August 2013

'The V You Don't See': Dangerous Crushes, Diva Demands and Exclusive Beyoncé Pictures

The allure of the large, outdoor music festival has always eluded me. The few sprawling, open-air gigs I've been to over the years have been rather soulless affairs. The sound is often poor and most of the audience end up watching on TV screens because they can't get anywhere near the stage.

Atmosphere has always been curiously lacking. The visceral experience of a live gig is lost in the expanse of the setting - any funk or soul which may be emanating from the stage seems to just sort of waft away into the sky before it ever reaches anybody beyond about the first 10 rows. Beyond that invisible barrier, the only people having a good time usually appear to be off their faces on drink, drugs or both. My ethos is, and always has been, that if the gig is so crappy you have to be on drugs to enjoy it, why bother going?

Bootsy Collins' road manager had me admitted to the O2 Wireless festival for free in 2008, when Bootsy performed there on his James Brown tribute tour. I only lasted a few hours. I was surrounded by ridiculous hipsters, sporting bow-ties and fluorescent plastic sunglasses frames with no lenses in, and quickly tired of being constantly offered pills by tweaking ravers.

The thought of stretching that experience across two days, adding into the mix a complete lack of showers and only a few hundred increasingly grim portable toilets for comfort, is pretty much my idea of hell.

It is for this reason that despite living only 25 minutes from V Festival - an enormous, two-day, outdoor event which is screened every year on Channel 4 - I have never even considered going. The line-up has never excited me, the tickets are incredibly expensive and the entire thing just sounded exhausting.

It was an amusing twist of fate, therefore, that this year I was awarded a V Festival press pass. It was one of seven that was allocated to my newspaper after it agreed to publish a 12-page commemorative pull-out about the event. I had to think long and hard about whether or not I wanted to go. I was leaning towards 'not', but my editor was proposing a fantastic journalistic exercise; a photographer covering every act on the main stage and six reporters roving around the event, interviewing crowd members, reviewing acts, collecting amusing news items and blogging about their firsthand experiences. I told him that if he needed me there, I would be there.

To recount the entire weekend would take a lot of time and a lot of words. What I will say is this: It was an eye-opener. Our press passes gave us almost complete access to the festival; the right to use staff entrances and exits, free entry to a garden full of celebrities, and a fleet of airport buggies to ferry us wherever we wanted to go. Despite this, it was about as unglamorous an experience as you could imagine (even if we did have our own luxury toilets).

Being backstage gave us almost zero access to celebrities, but full knowledge of all their ridiculous diva demands. For instance, Beyoncé - upset by some unflattering pictures taken of her at the Superbowl - banned all photographers from taking pictures in front of the stage (the only act across the entire two-day, five-stage festival to make such a demand) and forced them to take pictures from about 100 yards away. She - along with Jessie J - also forced photographers to sign away the syndication rights to all of their photographs, preventing them from earning any money from their own work.

A band called The Heavy demanded that their agent personally approve every single picture taken during their performance before they could be published. Photographers boycotted them as a result, meaning they got no coverage at all - so it's fair to say that particular celebrity whinge backfired somewhat. Elsewhere, nobody was allowed to move (literally) in the backstage area when Beyoncé decided to leave her dressing room - and journalists were told off in a press area for looking at UK pop singer Olly Murs.

I documented much of this insanity in a pair of blog posts. In the first, I described almost being injured in a dangerous crush ahead of Beyoncé's performance. I was compelled to write the piece after witnessing dozens of fans being pulled from the squeeze either in tears or barely conscious. In my personal opinion, unless organisers find some way to prevent this from happening in years to come, it is only a matter of time until somebody is seriously injured.

In the second blog post, I recounted the farcical incident in which I and other journalists were reprimanded for looking at singer Olly Murs in the Media Garden.

After the crush on the first night, I swore I would never return. My stance has since softened slightly, although if I do ever go back, it certainly won't be as a paying customer (caveats, such as a headline slot by Prince, may apply).

At the end of the second day, my news editor asked me what had been my festival highlight. I really struggled to think of anything. I had enjoyed some acts - The Stereophonics, Laura Mvula - but none had left me especially excited and overall, it had been an exhausting and slightly disturbing experience.

Then, it suddenly came to me; my highlight had been writing about it. For all the craziness - the frustration at the celebrities' outrageous demands, the dangerous crushing in the crowds, the audience teeming with drunken and possibly drugged lunatics - it had been fantastic to have that unique combination; enough access to know about the backstage madness and enough freedom to write about it. Traditional media outlets never write about that stuff. They're scared to be critical in case they jeopardise their access to free tickets the following year. I, conversely, didn't give two hoots whether I was ever invited back again, so I laid it all out for the reader; showed them - as we later coined it in the news room - 'The V You Don't See'. I got a lot of comments on Facebook and Twitter which suggested to me that people had enjoyed reading about the hidden side of music festivals and what it's really like backstage.

If I do go back next year, it will be with a view to producing more of the same.

I took a lot of photos at the festival, which didn't get used anywhere - so this blog is going to serve as a sort of V Festival Scrapbook. Enjoy.

The Calm Before The Storm

The Gates Open


The Comedy Tent - Josh Widdecombe and Shappi Khorsandi


Seasick Steve and Olly Murs spotted in the Media Garden

Laura Mvula

Emile Sandé


Kings of Leon

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Mirror publishes another fraudulent Jackson 'FBI' story

A pattern is emerging here.

Today the Mirror has published a story claiming that FBI papers released in 2009 'admit' that an investigation into Michael Jackson was halted in the mid-80s to avoid political embarrassment, as Jackson was due to have a public meeting with President Reagan.

The story is a lie and I have to conclude that it is an intentional lie. This is the second time in eight days that the same organisation has run a completely inaccurate story based on 'FBI files' accusing Jackson of paedophilia. There are two possibilities. 1) The staff at the Mirror are completely incompetent. 2) They are smearing Michael Jackson with lies on purpose.

The story alleges that files 'admit' that Jackson was investigated for molesting two Mexican boys, but the investigation was called off because of the presidential meeting. The story is absolutely bogus.

Here is what the files really say:

After the Jordan Chandler allegations became public, a writer - not named in the files - contacted the FBI to say they had heard a rumour that Jackson was investigated for molesting two Mexican boys in the mid-80s, but the investigation had been called off for the reasons outlined in the Mirror's story.

These claims are made in the files solely by the anonymous writer, who had been unable to obtain any evidence at all that they were true. The only reason the claim appears in the files is that the writer had contacted the bureau to ask whether it was true. The bureau searched its records and found that the rumoured mid-80s investigation had never taken place - then wrote a document detailing the interaction with the writer, which is what the Mirror has quoted.

The FBI report was written, specifically, to document the fact that a writer had called to enquire about a rumoured investigation, but the FBI had concluded the rumour was untrue. However, the Mirror has chosen to totally misrepresent the contents of the document and state inaccurately that the story was in fact true.

This story - like last week's - is not only bogus, but old. It was widely misreported in 2009 when the files were released. I addressed it on this very blog, in an article which wound up being quoted in J Randy Taraborrelli's 'The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story' as the only accurate assessment of the FBI files he was able to find.

This is the Mirror's emerging pattern; it takes a fabricated story which was discredited several years ago, pretends it is brand new, intentionally omits the fact that it is fabricated and uses it to smear Michael Jackson.

At this stage, I feel that serious questions need to be asked about what is really going on here.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Radio appearance tomorrow

Tomorrow I will appear on King Jordan's radio show in New York (via telephone, alas) to discuss Michael Jackson. I imagine last week's ludicrous story in the People will be a hot topic. You can stream the show online for free at this link at 10pm UK time / 5pm NY time.

Incidentally, CNN has published a report on the People's story, calling its credibility into question. A positive step but one which, unsurprisingly, has not sparked the same global copy/paste frenzy that the original, bogus story generated.

Meanwhile, the Mirror - the People's sister newspaper - appeared on Thursday to be trying to wash its hands of the story. After becoming involved in a chain of tweets sent to me by Michael Jackson's nephew Taj and some Jackson fans, the newspaper's Twitter author published a seemingly confused tweet claiming the story was nothing to do with the Mirror and they had no idea why they were being attacked over another paper's story...

...Which might have been a valid point, were it not for the fact that the original story appeared on the Mirror's website, as did another story the following day, which repeated all of the inaccurate information.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Mirror, the People, and the settlement that never was...

It's a funny thing. Ever since the high-profile Michael Jackson death trial started going pear-shaped for promoter AEG Live, a lot of newspapers which carry prominent and lucrative advertising for its events have become more intent on smearing Michael Jackson than ever.

Leading the way has been The Mirror in the UK. A few weeks ago, contemporaneous emails presented at trial showed that AEG boss Randy Phillips had 'slapped' Michael Jackson because he was scared about attending a press conference. Slapped him and screamed at him 'so loud the walls shook'.

The shocking revelation was widely ignored by the press. Several days after the evidence was heard in open court, only one outlet had summoned the courage to publish it. AP did not include the testimony in its daily missive from the courtroom. The wire's reporter claimed on twitter he had been out of the courtroom sending emails when the testimony occurred.

It was only when fans started making noise about the 'cover-up' on sites like Twitter that other media companies grudgingly published the comments. AEG-sponsored newspapers like the Mirror, though, bizarrely tried to paint Michael Jackson as the bad guy. According to the first line of the Mirror's story, Jackson 'needed to be slapped'. Interestingly, the Mirror was a lot faster to publish a story last year accusing Janet Jackson of slapping a minor. A story which turned out to be a lie.

This weekend - days after Jackson's son took the stand and testified that he saw Phillips in his home while his father was not there, behaving 'aggressively' towards Jackson's doctor - the Mirror's Sunday edition, called the People, is at it again. It has published a highly misleading story about some 'FBI files' which allegedly show Michael Jackson was witnessed molesting children by multiple Neverland employees. The 'FBI files' also detail a supposed settlement with a young accuser in 1992 - before the Jordy Chandler case.

In reality, the story is a nonsense; a birds nest of mangled and misstated accusations which are neither 'new' nor 'exclusive', despite the People's repeated claims that they are. In fact, the documents are not 'FBI files' at all. This is a flat-out lie. Moreover, the claims have all been in the public domain for a very long time, some having been discredited two decades ago.

Of course, most readers won't bother to fact-check the story. Why would they? The newspaper is supposed to do that before publishing it. Sadly, it seems other media outlets can't be bothered either. Britain's Mail newspaper has already rehashed the story, evidently making no attempt to investigate its veracity before doing so.

I could go into a whole lot of detail about the claims made by the People - and the various lazy journalists who will copy and paste its story hundreds, or perhaps thousands of times onto their own websites and into their own newspapers in the coming days. But what is the point? The info is already in the public domain.

Those who hate Jackson will adopt the People's story as evidence for their case. Those with an interest in hearing both sides of Jackson's case will already know that these claims were debunked a long time ago. Nobody else will even bother to research the story. The People's readers buy the newspaper because they like and trust it. They, as intended, will believe this story and will not question it.

Briefly, however, for the record:

1) The 'FBI files' are not FBI files. They are transcripts of interviews compiled by a tabloid journalist who paid his sources - including one who, it seems, might not have actually existed.They were acquired by a PI who worked for Jackson's defence team. A decade later, he was prosecuted for tapping phones. The FBI seized all of his files, of which these tabloid interviews formed a miniscule part. The documents are therefore in the possession of the FBI - but they are not FBI files. If I order a Pizza Hut margherita to my home, that doesn't make it a 'Charles Thomson pizza'.

2) The allegations of Jackson being caught by multiple employees do not, as the People infers, come from a host of different documents. They all come from one document - a transcript of an interview with a couple called the LeMarques, who worked at Neverland in the late 80s and early 90s. The People intentionally does not state that all of these uncorroborated accusations come from just one of the documents, instead purposely misleading readers and suggesting that they're taken from a cache of evidence.

The LeMarques never contacted police about the abuse they claimed to have witnessed, instead opting to negotiate deals with tabloid newspapers - including the Mirror. Their claims were investigated by cops probing Jackson, who found the couple had agreed to add increasingly graphic details to their interviews for more and more money. Investigators concluded in the 90s that the pair had no credibility and possessed no evidence of any genuine abuse. They were called on out of desperation to testify in Jackson's 2005 trial after prosecutors watched their case begin to disintegrate, but were destroyed under cross-examination. Jurors rejected their testimony and acquitted Jackson, unanimously.

3) The supposed 'settlement' in 1992 was detailed to a tabloid reporter, for money, by a serial tipster called Taylea Shea. She never showed the reporter a document - she simply 'read it out' over the phone. A police investigation into the claim found that the boy named in the settlement did not exist, there was no record of any settlement ever being paid, and Taylea Shea disappeared into thin air. It became apparent she had used several aliases and nobody knew who she really was. She was never heard of again.

This leaves one element of the People's story standing; that Jackson 'allegedly' - what a convenient little word that is - paid $35million to two-dozen young accusers. The newspaper presents no evidence to corroborate this claim. Just a note in the tabloid reporter's documents, which the People intentionally misrepresents as an 'FBI file'.

Contrary to the People's claim, investigators knew about and investigated these files as part of their probe into Jackson in 2003/4, in which they were assisted by the FBI. Despite all of their resources, neither the Californian police nor the FBI was ever able to locate any evidence that any child besides Jordan Chandler or Jason Francia ever received a settlement.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The sworn testimony that will come back to haunt Wade Robson

When you've been covering Michael Jackson for any significant period of time, you come to believe that nothing can shock you anymore. Since I began reporting on Michael Jackson for various media organisations, he has announced the biggest concert residency of all time and then died before he could complete it. A doctor has been jailed for his homicide and a posthumous album has caused international scandal by containing tracks allegedly sung by an imposter.

For many years, Michael Jackson's life (and after-life) has been a quagmire of scandal, controversy and legal wrangling. Presently, entertainment company AEG - which promoted Jackson's 'This Is It' concerts - is on trial over what the singer's family feels is a modicum of responsibility for his death. Already, witnesses have testified that Jackson was banned from the stage during some rehearsals for fear he would injure himself. A producer has testified to weeping as she saw Jackson rambling at rehearsals that God was speaking to him. She told jurors she had warned senior production members she believed he was dying and needed to be transported to hospital, only for her pleas to go ignored. Less than a week later, he was dead.

To a seasoned Jackson correspondent, none of this was surprising. It seems that not a week goes by without some drama or another engulfing the deceased music legend or those closely associated with him, from copyright disputes to kidnap allegations. But last week there was a development in the Michael Jackson sphere which truly did surprise me. Wade Robson, who has staunchly defended Michael Jackson for 20 years and even testified for him in his 2005 trial, filed papers against various organisations connected to the pop legend, seeking multiple pay-outs for alleged childhood abuse.

The choreographer claims he was sexually abused for seven years, from age seven to age 14. The news has rocked the Michael Jackson community. Those who loved him have sprung to his defence while those who built careers on attacking him have reacted with undisguised glee. Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe has labeled the financial demands 'opportunistic' and Jermaine Jackson has branded the choreographer 'full of shit'.

Civil rights lawyer Tom Mesereau, who defended Jackson in his 2005 trial, has suggested the claims are 'suspicious' as their public filing coincided so neatly with the AEG trial. Indeed, the allegations broke as make-up artist Karen Faye testified that she and others had raised repeated concerns about Jackson's health but had received callous responses from those in charge. Robson's televised interview days later ensured little media attention was paid to testimony from an AEG employee that financial papers proved Murray was the company's employee, not Michael Jackson's. Wade Robson has repeatedly worked for AEG and apparently already has future work lined up with the corporation, but his lawyer has denied any connection between the court cases.

In light of Robson's sudden change of tune, I have dusted off my complete trial transcripts from the 2005 government prosecution of Michael Jackson. While many news reports have mentioned that Robson testified for Jackson in the case, few have made any particular effort to underscore the gravity of his testimony.

Wade Robson was such a compelling and assured witness that Michael Jackson chose him to open his defence case at trial. Under sustained and sometimes aggressive questioning by government prosecutor Ron Zonen, Robson not only denied any impropriety on Jackson's part, but did so repeatedly, vigorously and convincingly - even mocking prosecutors and describing the mere suggestion of sexual abuse at Jackson's hands as 'ridiculous'.

As a side-note, the idea that in a trial about alleged child sex abuse, a genuine abuser would choose somebody they had molested for seven years as their first witness to undergo unrelenting government cross-examination may seem somewhat far-fetched to the casual onlooker.

When viewed alongside some of the comments he made on the Today Show this week, Robson's testimony is likely to cast more than a reasonable doubt over his new claims. He answered clearly and competently to detailed questions about various examples of alleged misconduct.  The testimony is so immensely damaging to his new legal demands for money that he and his lawyer have already floated two potential, but arguably equally unconvincing, explanations for the bizarre u-turn.

When the story about his demands for money went live last week, Robson's lawyer was quoted as saying the choreographer had recovered 'repressed memories', a story many suggested could have been designed to explain away Robson's strenuous denials in the 2005 trial without admitting to perjury. However, Robson's claim was met with such incredulity - many eminent psychologists do not even believe in repressed memories and even those who do took rather a dim view of Robson's somewhat extreme story - that he has since changed tact.

Robson claimed in his TV interview this week that the real reason he told jurors he was not molested was that he had not realised that what Jackson allegedly did to him was abusive - another claim guaranteed to raise many an eyebrow. He was a successful, professional 22-year-old man at the time of his testimony.

Under oath in 2005, Robson was asked repeatedly about particular acts and whether he knew Michael Jackson to have performed them upon any child. He responded vehemently that not only had he never witnessed any such behaviour, but he was steadfast in his opinion that Michael Jackson would never have engaged in it.

Looking back over the 2005 court documents, the latest explanation for his testimony simply does not stand up to scrutiny. For instance, he was asked specifically whether Jackson had touched his body. Regardless of whether he believed Jackson's conduct to constitute sexual abuse, if Jackson had indeed touched his body, the clear answer would have been 'yes'. But it wasn't 'yes'. It was 'no'. Over, and over, and over again.

He even testified that after what he now claims were several years of sexual abuse at Jackson's hands, he returned to the scene of the alleged crimes more than 20 times in later life, with friends and relatives in tow, for relaxing getaways. He also testified to remaining in touch with Jackson and still considering him a close friend. Indeed, several years after the trial, Robson continued to socialise with Jackson.

Shortly after Jackson's death was announced in 2009, Robson wrote that Jackson was 'one of the main reasons I believe in the pure goodness of humankind'. According to Jackson's brother Jermaine, Robson and his mother helped him pen portions of his autobiography about the media's unfair portrayal of his brother as a child molester. Indeed, since Jackson's death Robson has paid public tribute to the star repeatedly, as recently as 2012. He even applied last year for a job choreographing a tribute show to his alleged molester, but did not get the gig.

Wade Robson has filed a creditor's claim against Jackson's Estate, seeking a cash pay-out for alleged childhood abuse. He has also filed 50 civil lawsuits against various individuals and companies affiliated with Jackson, seeking further pay-outs for his alleged abuse.

He insisted this week that his new claims were 'not about money'.

The full transcript of Robson's testimony on May 5, 2005, totals almost 14,000 words and runs across 60 pages of A4. It includes lots of repetition and discussion about where he lived, when his parents separated and various other tangential asides. Below, I have extracted what I believe to be the key testimony. It is difficult to see how, given the existence of this sworn testimony, Robson could ever convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson had ever acted inappropriately in his presence.

A cynical person might therefore interpret Robson's high profile TV interview this week as an attempt to avoid ever getting into a courtroom and having a jury test his new claims. How many more high profile public attacks can Jackson's Estate suffer before it is forced to begin considering a settlement? At this stage, the ability to damage the Estate's earning potential is about all Robson has got on his side - because the evidence is firmly on Michael Jackson's.

Here is the testimony nobody else in the media is showing you. See for yourself.

Under direct examination by Michael Jackson's lawyer, Tom Mesereau:

Q. Do you consider Michael Jackson your friend?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you consider him a close friend?

A. Yes.

Q. You’re aware of the allegations in this case, are you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And are you aware, as you sit here today, that there’s been allegations that Mr. Jackson molested you?

A. Yes.

Q. Mr. Robson, did Michael Jackson ever molest you at any time?

A. Absolutely not.

Q. Mr. Robson, did Michael Jackson ever touch you in a sexual way?

A. Never, no.

Q. Mr. Robson, has Mr. Jackson ever inappropriately touched any part of your body at any time?

A. No.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. How many times do you think you’ve stayed in Mr. Jackson’s room at Neverland?

A. Same amount of times as I’ve been there. Well, no, that’s not true, I’m sorry. I’ve been there a bunch of times without Michael, just with other friends and family traveling there. But, I don’t know, maybe 15 to 20.

Q. And at no time has any sexual contact ever occurred between you and Mr. Jackson, right?

A. Never.

Q. Have you ever taken a shower with Mr. Jackson?

A. No.

Q. Have you ever gone swimming with Mr. Jackson?

A. Yes.

Q. And please explain what you mean.

A. One time with my sister and I, my sister and I and Michael, we went in the Jacuzzi at Neverland Ranch.

Q. And do you know approximately when that was?

A. I don’t. I can’t say for sure. I have a feeling that it was within that first trip in ‘89 when I went there.

Q. Do you recall what Mr. Jackson was wearing in the Jacuzzi?

A. From my recollection, he was wearing shorts. You know, like swimming shorts. And that was it.

Q. Did anything inappropriate ever happen in that Jacuzzi?

A. No.

Q. Has anything inappropriate ever happened in any shower with you and Mr. Jackson?

A. No. Never been in a shower with him.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Mr. Robson, has anyone told you what to say in this courtroom today?

A. No.

Q. Is everything you’ve said the complete and honest truth?

A. Yes.

Q. Did Mr. Jackson ever do anything wrong with you?

A. No.

Under cross-examination by government prosecutor Ron Zonen:

Q. All right. Now, the first time that you slept with Mr. Jackson you were seven years old; is that correct?

A. I slept in the same bed with him. But, yes, I was seven.

Q. Did you understand my question to mean something other than that?

A. Sounded like it.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Were there periods of time when you were at Neverland and working with Mr. Jackson on dance routines?

A. No. I mean, we would mess around and dance a little bit in the studio every now and then, yes.

Q. Was there ever an occasion where you were on the dance floor with Mr. Jackson and he was showing you a routine and he grabbed your crotch in a manner similar to how he would grab his own crotch while doing those performances?

A. No, that’s not true.

Q. You have no recollection of that?

A. No.

Q. That didn’t happen?

A. No.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Now, at any time did you start to develop conversations with your mother about the propriety of sleeping with this man who’s now well into his 30s?

A. No.

Q. Did you consider it unusual at all?

A. No.

Q. Did your mother consider it unusual?

A. No.

Q. Did you ever talk to your father about it?

A. Yeah.

Q. You talked to your father about your sleeping with Michael Jackson?

A. No, I mean, you know, everybody knew, and nobody ever said that it was -- we never talked about it being unusual or anything like that.

Q. Did your mother ever ask you if anything inappropriate happened in bed with him?

A. No.

Q. Did she simply assume nothing happened?

A. Yes.

Q. You’re telling us nothing happened; is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. What you’re really telling us is nothing happened while you were awake; isn’t that true?

A. I’m telling you that nothing ever happened.

Q. Mr. Robson, when you were asleep, you wouldn’t have known what had happened, particularly at age seven, would you have?

A. I would think something like that would wake me up.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Was there, in fact, a shower at Neverland in the suite, the bedroom suite?

A. Yes.

Q. But you didn’t use it?

A. I used it by myself.

Q. Was he in the room while you were using it?

A. In the bedroom, not in the shower room, which had its own door.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. You haven’t gone back to Neverland since you were 13?

A. I have. Not with him.

Q. Have you gone back to Neverland since you were 13 and actually stayed overnight?

A. Yes.

Q. On how many occasions since you were 13?

A. A lot. Same thing. 20, 25. Something like that.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Mr. Jackson would periodically kiss you, would he not?

A. No.

Q. Periodically hug you?

A. Yes.

Q. Touch you?

A. Hug me. That would be --

Q. Put his hands through your hair?

A. No.

Q. Touch you about the head and the face?

A. Yeah.

Q. Did he ever kiss you on the cheek?

A. Yeah.

Q. Did he ever kiss you on the lips?

A. No.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Were there occasions that Mr. Jackson would summon you to Neverland Ranch?

A. Summon me?

Q. Yes. Call you up and ask you to come and be there; invite you to Neverland Ranch?

A. Invite us, yeah.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. On the occasions that you stayed in bed with Mr. Jackson, would you ever cuddle in bed?

A. No.

Q. Would you lie next to one another?

A. No.

Q. Would you touch?

A. No.

Q. Would you consider it to have been inappropriate to have cuddled in bed?

A. Sorry?

Q. Would you have considered it to be inappropriate to have cuddled in bed?

A. No.

Under re-direct by Tom Mesereau:

Q. Okay. The prosecutor asked you questions about whether or not you were considered family. Did you consider yourself to be part of Mr. Jackson’s family?

A. Yeah, I mean, in a friendship sort of way. Because we were that close. It was like family.

Q. And did you use the word “family” once in a while --

A. Yes.

Q. -- when you spoke to him?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you hear your mother or sister using the word “family”?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you think anything was strange about that?

A. No.

Q. The prosecutor for the government asked about Mr. Jackson giving you a kiss on the cheek.

A. Uh-huh.

Q. And you said that happened sometimes?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you think there was anything inappropriate about that?

A. No.

Q. Did you do it in front of your mom?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you do it in front of your sister?

A. Yes.

Q. Did your mother kiss him on the cheek?

A. Yes.

Q. Did your sister kiss him on the cheek?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you kiss Mr. Jackson on the cheek?

A. Yes.

Q. Did your mother used to hug Mr. Jackson?

A. Yes.

Q. Did Mr. Jackson used to hug your mother?

MR. ZONEN: I’ll object as irrelevant what happened with his mother.

THE COURT: Overruled. Go ahead.

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Did Mr. Jackson used to hug your mother?

A. Yes.

Q. Did your sister used to hug Mr. Jackson?

MR. ZONEN: I’ll object as leading as well.

THE COURT: Overruled.

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Did your sister used to hug Mr. Jackson?

A. Yes.

Q. And would you see Mr. Jackson hug your sister?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ever think there was anything inappropriate about Mr. Jackson hugging any member of your family?

A. No.

Q. Did you ever think it was inappropriate to see any member of your family hug Mr. Jackson?

A. No.

Q. Now, you said your sister would sometimes stay in Mr. Jackson’s room, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And how often do you recall that happening?

A. I remember it just within that first trip we were there. So it was -- it was, you know, three or four nights or something like that.

Q. And you mentioned Brandy. Is that who you mentioned?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was Brandy again?

A. She was Michael Jackson’s niece.

Q. You saw Brandy staying in his room?

A. Yeah.

Q. What’s the largest number of kids you ever saw stay in Mr. Jackson’s room, if you remember?

A. Yeah, probably four to five.

Q. And what do you recall the children doing in his room?

A. Well, before we went to sleep, same sort of things. We’d play video games, watch movies. Have pillow fights. You know, yeah.

Q. Did you ever see anything of a sexual nature between Mr. Jackson and any of those children?

A. Never.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Have you seen Mr. Jackson hug other children at Neverland?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you seen other children hug Mr. Jackson at Neverland?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you ever thought any of this was inappropriate?

A. No.

Q. Have you seen Mr. Jackson kiss children at Neverland?

A. On the cheek, yes. Or on the head, or on the top of the head, something like that.

Q. Ever seen kids kiss Mr. Jackson?

A. Yes.

Q. Any of that ever look inappropriate to you?

A. No.

Q. Have you seen lots of children visit Neverland on occasion?

A. Yes.

Q. And what do you mean?

A. I think we were there once when he had one of his gatherings, like a Heal the World Foundation thing where he had a bunch of kids come up there and -- you know, and have the day there.

Q. And how many kids are you talking about, do you think?

A. Probably about 100 or 50. 75 to 100, something like that.

Q. Were there adults with those children?

A. Yes.

Q. And you said, “Heal the World.” What did that mean to you?

MR. ZONEN: I’m going to object as exceeding the scope of the direct examination, and irrelevant, and beyond the scope of his knowledge.

THE COURT: Overruled. You may answer.

THE WITNESS: Could you repeat the question?

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Yeah. What was “Heal the World,” as far as you remember?

A. As far as I knew, it was a foundation or a charity that Michael had created that, you know, raised money for kids with illnesses. I don’t know exactly what kind, but --

Q. Did you interact with any of these kids that visited that day?

A. I may have, yeah, I mean, waved at them or met a couple of them or something like that.

Q. Did you see Mr. Jackson hugging other children?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see them hugging him?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see Mr. Jackson kiss children?

A. Yeah.

Q. Have you seen them kiss him?

A. Yes.

Q. Ever seen anything inappropriate?

A. No.

Q. Did you see Mr. Jackson hug adults who were with those children?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see adults hug Mr. Jackson who were with those children?

A. Yes.

Q. Ever think any of that was inappropriate?

A. No.

Q. Now, the prosecutor for the government asked you questions about whether he touched your hair.

A. Uh-huh.

Q. Do you recall Mr. Jackson ever touching your hair?

A. I can’t recall an exact thing, but it seems like something he might have done at some point.

Q. Do you ever recall Mr. Jackson doing anything inappropriate with your hair?

A. No.

Q. Ever seen Mr. Jackson touch another child on the head?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you seen that many times?

A. Many times.

Q. Did it ever seem like anything inappropriate was going on when you saw that?

A. No.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Ever see Michael throw water balloons at kids?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ever see Michael in golf carts with kids?

A. Yes.

Q. When you used to play at Neverland during the day, would Michael often be with you?

A. Yes.

Q. And what would Michael do with you?

A. We’d go on rides together, you know, where we’d drive around in the golf cart together, look at animals together, watch movies together.

Q. Did you see Mr. Jackson act in a similar way with other children?

A. Yes.

Q. Ever see anything inappropriate go on when he was doing any of these things?

A. No.

Q. Now, how often do you recall your mother going to Neverland with you?

A. It’s been every time except for that one time that I spoke of when I was there with Jordie Chandler and Macaulay and I.

Q. What do you recall seeing your mother do at Neverland?

A. A lot of the same things with us.

Q. Would she sometimes be with Mr. Jackson when all the kids were playing?

A. Oh, yes. She was playing along with us.

Q. Now, you mentioned visiting an apartment in Century City with Mr. Jackson, right?

A. Yes.

Q. And what do you recall doing in the apartment with Mr. Jackson?

A. Same sort of things. He had arcade games there. You know, candy. We’d eat, we’d watch, you know, T.V. shows, Stooges. Hang around, play games, you know.

Q. Did you ever see Mr. Jackson do anything inappropriate with any child at that apartment?

A. No.

Q. Where else have you been with Mr. Jackson?

A. Like I said, we covered Las Vegas. Westwood apartment, Century City apartment. Sheraton Hotel. He came and stayed at my place once.

Q. Where was that?

A. That was in Hollywood. It was -- my mother and I had a condo, and my sister.

Q. Did you see Mr. Jackson do anything inappropriate at any of these locations?

A. No.

Q. Ever seen Mr. Jackson touch any child in a sexual way at any of these locations?

A. Never.

Q. Did Mr. Jackson ever touch you inappropriately in any of these locations?

A. No.

Q. Now, have you been following media reporting in this case?

A. Yeah. On and off.

Q. You’re aware of allegations that were made that Mr. Jackson --

MR. ZONEN: I’m going to object as leading and exceeding the scope of the direct -- cross.

THE COURT: I don’t know what the question is yet.

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Okay. You’ve been following these reports that somehow Mr. Jackson was seen inappropriately touching you?

A. Yes.

Q. What do you think of them?

A. I think it’s --

MR. ZONEN: I’ll object. I’ll withdraw the objection.

THE WITNESS: I think it’s ridiculous.

MR. MESEREAU: No further questions.

Under re-cross by Ron Zonen:

[NB: Prosecutors showed Wade Robson a handful of legal art books found among tens of thousands of books at Jackson's home, which included a large library. Some of the art books, featuring work by respected photographers, depicted children, occasionally nude. Others featured adult men in 'homo-erotic' poses. Some were found bubble-wrapped and unread. Others featured inscriptions, showing they had been mailed to him by fans. All of the books remain legally available to purchase. Also found at Jackson's home were thousands of adult, heterosexual pornographic magazines, some of which were also shown to Robson.]

Q. Okay. You can go ahead and close that one right now. Mr. Robson, are you concerned about a man possessing these seven books being in bed with a 12-year-old boy?

A. If it was a man I didn’t know, maybe. But not Michael.

Q. Is that because you view Mr. Jackson as being, for the most part, asexual?

A. No.

Q. Because you believe that he doesn’t really have a sexual interest?

A. I believe that he has a sexual interest in women.

Q. Did you know that he possessed these magazines?

MR. MESEREAU: Objection, Your Honor, he didn’t let the witness complete his answer.

THE COURT: Sustained.

MR. MESEREAU: Could the witness complete his answer, Your Honor?


THE WITNESS: I believe that he has a sexual interest in women.

Q. BY MR. ZONEN: In women?

A. Yes.

Q. These books don’t suggest otherwise?

A. Not necessarily.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. The collective material that you have just been shown does not cause you a moment of pause when you think about the prospect of this person who possesses all of this crawling into bed with a ten-year-old boy?

A. No.

Q. And you would allow a child to crawl into bed with such a person?

A. If I knew the person, yes.

Q. If you knew them?

A. Yes.

Q. Your own child, you’d have no problem sleeping with a 35-, 40-year-old man?

A. If I knew the person well, no.

MR. ZONEN: No further questions.

Under re-direct by Tom Mesereau:

Q. Mr. Robson?

A. Yes.

Q. That’s your fiancee right there, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You are heterosexual, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You are a close friend of Michael, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. By the way, did Michael Jackson ever -- oh, I’ll ask from there. When you were a young child, did Michael Jackson ever show you any sexually explicit material?

A. No.

Q. Did you ever see Michael Jackson show sexually explicit material to any child?

A. No.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Okay. And let me show you again Exhibit No. 842, “A boy; A Photographic Essay,” okay? And that’s the one with the inscription, “To Michael, from your loving fan, Rhonda,” okay?

A. Yes.

Q. And have you had a chance to flip through that book?

A. Yes.

Q. In fact, you see young children with rather innocent photographs of young boys, correct?

MR. ZONEN: I’m going to object as leading, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Overruled.

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Innocent photographs of young boys in various situations, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. You see a young boy hanging from a tree, right?

A. Yes.

Q. You see a young boy sitting outside a door, right?

A. Yes.

Q. See young boys on a beach, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Now, let’s go to -- quickly, to the material the prosecutor for the government showed you, okay? He showed you some magazines with heterosexual activity, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Have you seen one book that depicts child pornography in that group?

A. No.

MR. ZONEN: I believe there was a Court restriction on the use of that word, Your Honor, one initiated by the defense. Unless that reservation is finished.

MR. MESEREAU: He’s correct. And I made a mistake using the word. I’ll withdraw it, and I apologize.

THE COURT: All right. The problem is that sometimes it’s an appropriate word to use and sometimes it’s not. But the jury’s been instructed on it. And so if you want to rephrase it, that’s fine.


Q. In those books that the prosecutor for the government showed you, you see books about men, right?

15 A. Yes.

Q. You see one book that says, “A Study of Male Sexuality” and shows some sexual acts between men, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And he showed you a number of magazines involving sexual activity between men and women, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Has he shown you one book involving children having sex?

A. No.

Q. Has he shown you one book where a man is having sex with a child?

A. No.

Q. The prosecutor tried to suggest that Mr. Jackson is asexual. Do you remember that question?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you believe he’s asexual?

A. No.

Q. Have you seen Mr. Jackson with women in your lifetime?

A. With what kind of woman? A woman that he’s in a relationship with?

Q. That he’s been married to.

A. Yeah, with Lisa Marie.

Q. When you were at Neverland, did you ever see anything that suggested pedophilia?

A. No.

Q. Ever see any magazine or poster that suggested pedophilia?

A. Never.

*  *  *  *  *

Q. Has anything this prosecutor for the government has said to you changed your opinion of Michael Jackson?

A. Not at all.

Q. Does it change your opinion as to whether or not he ever did anything inappropriate with a child?

A. Not at all.

MR. MESEREAU: No further questions.

MR. ZONEN: I have no questions.

THE COURT: Thank you. You may step down