Wednesday 22 November 2017

Church waived £100,000 fee to sing at Murdoch's wedding for more favourable press

Dean Gray in London

Charlotte Church described yesterday how she agreed to waive a £100,000 (€116,000) fee for singing at Rupert Murdoch's wedding in exchange for a promise of future favourable coverage in his papers.

The star, dubbed the 'Voice of an Angel', told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards she was just 13 at the time and wanted to take the money.

But she was persuaded by her management and record company that she should go for the option of being "looked on favourably" by a "powerful man" like Mr Murdoch.

Ms Church (25), said she accepted that her strategy failed and that the media mogul's newspapers had since been "some of the worst offenders".

Recounting her experiences of press intrusion, the singer cited a 'News of the World' article reporting her father was having an affair and that her mother had attempted suicide.

On another occasion 'The Sun' revealed she was pregnant for the first time before she had even told her family.

She suggested the story must have come from phone hacking or other surveillance.

Ms Church was asked to sing at Mr Murdoch's 1999 wedding to Wendi Deng on the media tycoon's yacht in New York.

She said she was given the choice of receiving a £100,000 fee -- the biggest she had ever been offered at the time -- or receiving favourable publicity from Mr Murdoch's papers in the future.

"Despite my teenage business head screaming, 'think how many Tamagotchis you could buy!', I was pressured into taking the latter option," she said in a witness statement.

"This strategy failed for me. In fact, Mr Murdoch's newspapers have since been some of the worst offenders, so much so that I have sometimes felt there has actually been a deliberate agenda."

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.


Ms Church told the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London she faced media attention from the age of 12 but the intrusion was worst when she was between 16 and 20.

The inquiry was told her manager found evidence of a camera hidden in a shrub outside her home, she was chased by photographers in cars and paparazzi tried to take pictures up her skirt and down her top.

The singer spoke of the "massive psychological effect" of a 'News of the World' story in December 2005 about her father's affair, headlined 'Church's three-in-a-bed cocaine shock'. The article had a "massive, massive impact" on her family and in particular her mother's health.

Ms Church said: "They knew how vulnerable she (my mother) was and still printed this story, which was horrific. I can't think of any justification for printing a story like that."

Other examples of media intrusion and inaccuracy highlighted by Ms Church included a clock on 'The Sun's' website counting down to her 16th birthday in a reference to the fact she was reaching the age of sexual consent, and a "shadow network" of staff at hotels, restaurants and airlines who allegedly tipped off journalists about her movements.

Ms Church said: "Through my success as a singer, I grew up in front of cameras and reporters, and I was not allowed the time to learn and make mistakes in private as most children and teenagers do. Whilst I have been determined to not let the media change me, the coverage has been utterly horrifying at times."

The inquiry continues.

Irish Independent

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