Claims come amid findings that Bashir engaged in ‘deceitful behaviour’ to gain access to Princess Diana
Last week, Bashir was found to have engaged in “deceitful behaviour” to gain interview access to Princess Diana in 1995. An independent inquiry concluded that Bashir’s actions were also a “serious breach” of the BBC’s editorial rules, which the corporation later covered up.
In 2003, Bashir presented Living with Michael Jackson, an ITV documentary in which he trailed the late pop star over the course of eight months. During the film, Jackson admitted to sharing his bed with young boys, but insisted that there was no sexual component to the interactions.
Months after the documentary was broadcast, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of intoxicating a minor with alcohol. Jackson was acquitted of all charges in 2005.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Monday (24 May), Jackson’s nephew Taj claimed that his uncle was “betrayed” by Bashir’s documentary, and that his own faith in journalism “died” amid the resulting scandal.
“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.”
Taj added that he and the Jackson family want “accountability” and “an investigation” into the documentary.
“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 issued on behalf of Martin Bashir said: “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.
“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.”
In his own statement in 2003, Jackson said that Bashir had told him he was “the man that turned Diana’s life around”, and that he had promised to make “an honest and fair portrayal” of his life.
“I am surprised that a professional journalist would compromise his integrity by deceiving me in this way,” Jackson said. “Today I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before; that someone, who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair programme.”