Saturday 20 January 2018

Charlotte Church waived £100k fee to sing at Rupert Murdoch’s wedding for ‘good press’

Ella Pickover, Ellen Branagh and Sam Marsden

SINGER Charlotte Church waived a £100,000 fee to sing at Rupert Murdoch's wedding when she was 13, in exchange for a promise of favourable publicity, she said today.

Church, dubbed The Voice of an Angel, told the Leveson Inquiry she was asked to sing at Mr Murdoch's wedding to Wendi Deng in 1999.

In a statement she said she was offered a fee of £100,000, but was told if she waived it she "would be looked upon favourably by Mr Murdoch's papers".

The inquiry heard News International denied the offer was made but Ms Church today said: "I remember being told that Rupert Murdoch had asked me to sing at his wedding to Wendi Deng and it would take place on his yacht in New York.

"I remember being told that the offer of money or the offer of the favour, in order to basically get good press, to be looked upon favourably.

"And I also remember being 13 and thinking, 'why on earth would anybody take a favour over £100,000?'."

She said she and her mother were both quite "resolute" about accepting the money, but were urged by her management and figures from the record company into taking the option of the favour from a "powerful man" like Mr Murdoch.

"He flew us in on his private jet from LA to New York which was amazing," she said.

"We went on to his boat which had a grand piano and which I was amazed by and I sang at the ceremony."

The inquiry heard it was later claimed her performance was organised as a surprise for Mr Murdoch, but Ms Church said she understood the request to be specifically from him.

"I had been told by my management that he had specifically asked for me to sing Pie Jesu."

She said she had raised the issue that it was a requiem - a funeral song - but was told Mr Murdoch specifically wanted it performed.

"He said he didn't care whether it was a funeral song and he liked that song and he wanted me to sing it, which I did."

In her witness statement, she said that accepting the waiver "failed", adding: "In fact Mr Murdoch's newspapers have since been some of the worst offenders, so much that I have sometimes felt that there has actually been a deliberate agenda.

"While newspapers such as Mr Murdoch's have not helped my career, they certainly damaged it.

"I do of course accept television and radio have been very significant contributors to my success. I have little complaint at the contact of those media organisations or the people they employ."

Church spoke of the "shadow network" of staff at hotels, restaurants and airlines who tip off journalists about her movements.

She said intrusion by photographers had a "massive impact" on her and her family and had "infiltrated" her everyday life, including when she takes her young children to the nursery.

The singer told the inquiry: "I think there is a shadow network where everybody has infiltrated in terms of hotel concierges, restaurants, will tip off journalists or paparazzi, the airlines, everywhere.

"I haven't been on a holiday since I was 16 where I haven't been found and photographed.

"Much of that I believe was bought information. If I haven't been followed to the airport I can't really see how else it could come about."

Explaining why she wanted to give evidence to the inquiry, Church cited the media attention she received from the age of 12.

"I wanted to show through my experiences how I think it is imperative that children are protected," she said.

"Also after becoming a mother myself of two young children, I really want to be able to protect my children in the future as much as possible. Their privacy is their right.

"And also in terms of my family, who have had to deal with this for years and years, and who are very happy for me to be speaking here to this inquiry."

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