Michael Jackson's nephew claims Martin Bashir interview 'destroyed his uncle's persona'

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/Shutterstock (673474ja)
'Tonight With Trevor McDonald'  - 2003 - Martin Bashir and Michael Jackson
ITV ARCHIVE
Martin Bashir and Michael Jackson grew close over eight months of filming. (ITV/Shutterstock)

Michael Jackson's nephew Taj has claimed Martin Bashir "destroyed his uncle's persona" in the infamous 2003 interview Living With Michael Jackson.

In the wake of an independent inquiry ruling that journalist Bashir had engaged in "deceitful behaviour" to get his 1995 BBC Panorama interview with Princess Diana, Taj claimed his late uncle had been similarly "stabbed in the back".

Read more: Michael Jackson's publicist warned him off Martin Bashir interview

Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Monday, Taj said: “It’s the betrayal aspect of it, someone that you let into your life and you trust. 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/Shutterstock (11955644h)
Taj Jackson
'Good Morning Britain' TV Show, London, UK - 24 May 2021
Taj Jackson says his uncle was tricked by Martin Bashir. (ITV/Shutterstock)

“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, [Bashir] really stabbed him in the back.”

Living With Michael Jackson was an ITV documentary in which Bashir spent eight months getting to know the music star, who talked about sharing his bed with young boys but insisted it wasn't sexual.

Following the documentary's airing, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of intoxicating a minor with alcohol, although he was acquitted of all charges in 2005.

US singer Michael Jackson during a tour of the Houses of Parliament, in London.
Michael Jackson was interviewed by Martin Bashir over eight months. (Getty)

Taj said: “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 on behalf of 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.

SANTA MARIA, UNITED STATES:  British journalist Martin Bashir (C) arrives with Ted Boutros(R), Bashir's attorney and Henry Hoberman, an attorney for ABC television at the Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria, CA, 01 March 2005 to be the first witnesses to be called at Michael Jackson's child sex abuse trial. Bashir made the documentary
Martin Bashir was called as a witness at Michael Jackson's 2005 trial. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

“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.”

Read more: The biggest bombshell tell-all interviews in TV history

In 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland, two of Jackson's alleged victims Wade Robson and James Safechuck spoke about their childhood experiences at the singer's Neverland ranch and the devastating effects they said he continued to have on their lives.

Jackson died in 2009.

Bashir's Panorama interview with Princess Diana was found last week to have breached editorial rules at the BBC – a breach that was then covered up.

Watch: BBC board to review editorial policies following Lord Dyson report

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