Michael Jackson's family calls for fresh inquiry into Martin Bashir's 2003 documentary

24 May 2021, 14:50

Michael Jackson and Martin Bashir
Michael Jackson and Martin Bashir. Picture: ITV

Michael Jackson‘s family has spoken out for a fresh investigation into the singer’s interview with Martin Bashir, claiming that his late uncle was “stabbed in the back” by the journalist.

Michael Jackson's nephew Taj - who previously sung with his brothers 3T - led the calls after an independent inquiry led by Lord Dyson last week found that Bashir engaged in “deceitful behaviour” to gain access to Princess Diana for an interview in 1995.

The Dyson Report concluded that Bashir’s actions to secure the interview amounted to a “serious breach” of BBC editorial policy, which the corporation later covered up.

Read more: Remembering the beautiful moment Michael Jackson and Princess Diana shyly first met

Seven years later in 2003, Bashir presented Living with Michael Jackson, an ITV documentary where he followed the late King of Pop over the course of eight months.

The film immediately caused a scandal for Jackson, after the singer said that he shared his bed with young boys, but he denied any sexual element to the interactions.

Michael Jackson shopping in Las Vegas

Just months later, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation, but he was acquitted of all charges in 2005.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Jackson’s nephew Taj said his uncle had been “betrayed” by Bashir’s special.

“It’s the betrayal aspect of it, someone that you let into your life and you trust,” Taj said.

“My uncle felt safe with him, and safe that he would portray him in the right light. My uncle looked at him as a friend, and through the voiceovers and the editing, really stabbed him in the back.”

He continued: “I always had faith that journalism meant something, and that day that faith died.

“This was a man who was let into my uncle’s life, trusted… and then pretty much destroyed my uncle’s persona, I would say, when my uncle was looking to rehabilitate it.”

A statement released on Bashir’s behalf to The Independent read: “The ITV documentary team spent more than eight months filming with Michael Jackson. He signed two contracts to allow for filming and broadcast and Martin Bashir was always accompanied by a production team and crew.

“Following the documentary Mr Jackson was charged by the relevant authorities in the United States in relation to allegations concerning a teenage boy. It was the second time Michael Jackson had faced similar allegations in his lifetime. He was tried and eventually cleared by a court in California.

Michael Jackson and Martin Bashir
Michael Jackson and Martin Bashir. Picture: ITV

“Martin Bashir gave no evidence against him because, apart from a very few minutes of the documentary that featured Mr Jackson talking on camera – very willingly – about sleeping in bed with a child, the film did not contain any allegations of wrongdoing.

"To suggest the TV programme led to his death, over which his personal physician was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, is untrue.”

Michael Jackson, who died six yearss after the documentary, said the film left him feeling “more betrayed than perhaps ever before”.

Read more: Michael Jackson's daughter Paris Jackson gives rare interview about life inside Neverland

The singer agreed to speak to Bashir at the recommendation of his friend Uri Geller, who had turned down Louis Theroux's request to do so first.

Following the film's release, Jackson released a second interview, titled Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See, airing on Fox in the US and Sky One in the UK. It was presented by Maury Povich and contained material which Bashir omitted.

It also showed interviews with Bashir giving different opinions than he gave in past interviews, as well as in his film's voice-overs. He is alsso shown praising Jackson as a father, and saying that he thought it was "wonderful" that he allowed children to come to Neverland.