Leveson Inquiry: Charlotte Church Turned Down £100,000 For 'Favourable' Press
Charlotte Church sang at Rupert Murdoch’s wedding for free in exchange for favourable publicity, the Leveson Inquiry has heard.
The 'Voice of an Angel' singer, who was 13 at the time, could charge up to £100,000 per performance, but waived the usual fee when told she "would be looked upon favourably by Murdoch's papers".
"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," she said.
"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?'."
Murdoch and News International deny that any such offer was made.
During an uncomfortable session of questioning, Church, now 25, told how earlier this year police had informed her that her phone had been hacked and monitored by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire when she was 17.
“They had passwords, pin numbers, phone numbers of lots of people in my life, my mother, my father, their friends, my friends, my old boyfriend's number, it was quite substantial,” she told Leveson, referring to it as a “massive black book, which seemed to be full of information”.
The inquiry also heard of how an article in the News of the World detailed allegations that her father was having an affair. "I see no public interest in this story except to sell papers," she said, adding that it had a huge effect on her mother and a "massive psychological impact on me".
“I think I've just blanked out how bad these articles were," Church said.
"It was totally sensationalised, whether partially or wholly true. And I just really hated the fact that my parents who had never been in this industry – apart from looking after me – were being exposed and vilified in this fashion. It had a massive, massive impact on my family life.”
The singer also told of how The Sun ran a story during the early months of her first pregnancy, entitled “Church sober shock".
She said she believed the newspaper had found out about her pregnancy from phone hacking.
Church also told of how photographers cut a hole in the hedge outside her home, through which members of the press could fit a camera, as well as a 'countdown clock' that appeared on The Sun's website, running down to the singer's 16th birthday with the innuendo of her reaching the age of (sexual) consent.
"It made me feel horrible... I was really uncomfortable with it," she said.
The Inquiry will resume on Tuesday at 10am.
Leveson made an order demanding Alastair Campbell's witness statement be removed. The owner of the website, Paul Staines, has been summoned to appear before Leveson on Wednesday to explain how he acquired the document.
Leveson turns his attention to the Guido Fawkes issue for this morning and decides he must give a ruling about the problem.
|@ jamesro47 : Broadcast experience shows proprietors need not fear regulation, Diamond says. Fair point #leveson|
Diamond tells Leveson directly: "It doesn't have to be like this. It's so sad that a handful of journalists have besmirched the press in this way."
Diamond praises collaboration with The Sun over cot death and relationship with tabloid media in general: "We were a force for good... the popular press is nothing to be ashamed of in this country. It can be a force for good."
"There are two sides to the press. I've no doubt they would pursue me now in the same way as in the past."
Diamond wrote a 'supportive' article, congratulating the actress Dawn French about her weight loss. Leveson asks how she makes the judgement about what and who to write about after such press intrusuion into her private life. Diamond's reply is that it does come down to 'a judgement call' , personal values as well as 'taste and decency'.
Diamond says that the broadcast media have to conform to strict guidelines regarding code of conduct without journalism beein negatively affected. She sees no reason why there shouldn't be a similar code for other media.
|@ SkyFixer69 : Other papers then ran spoiler stories that we'd done a deal with the Sun allowing the access to the funeral. #Diamond #Leveson|
Media quickly appeared on Diamond's doorstep when they discovered her son was found dead. One rpeorter had to physically ejected from their house. Diamond had rung her local priest to come over but he had felt too overwhelmed by the press presence that he had left.
Diamond wrote to the editors of every national newspaper, begging them not to stay away form the funeral. All of them did except for one photographer 'with a very long lense'.
|@ rosschawkins : Anne Diamond at #leveson : Sun journo offered her nanny 30k for selling story. Sun then phoned AD and said they'd bought her up|
When Diamond was about to give birth, staff told her they had had to throw a journalist out of the hospital who had been posing as a doctor.
Diamond had a scare in the early stages of her first pregnancy and thought she was going to lose her unborn baby. When contacted the same day by a journalist from the NOTW, she denied she was pregnant. When she confirmed the pregnancy some time later, the paper called her a liar.
Diamond says there were consistent negative stories about her following an encounter with Rupert Murdoch when Diamond asked the media mogul how he could sleep at night when sections of his empire were intent on ruining people's lives.
Anne Diamond 'catapulted' into the public eye when she joined Breakfast TV in 1983. She says that as a journalist she has seen both sides of press activities in terms of writing about others as well as being written about.
Church responds to Paul Dacre comments that newspapers are reporting on the misdeeds of the 'rich, powerful and pompous' by claiming many of these editors are probably rich and powerful (while demurring from adding pompous) and that they could be targets for similar press attention.
Church ends her evidence to Leveson.
"[The PCC] is totally inadequate. They don't deal with the problems, they don't deal with it at all."
Church describes how media reports twisted and distorted comments she made following the 911 attacks and how it led to a huge backlash against her in the United States, so much so that her record company sought protection for her chruch was 15 at the time.
The Daily Mail wrote a story about a holiday she took with a group of girlfriends when when she was 18. The piece was titled "Vice of an angel". Church says it was massively exaggerated.
Church's first boyfriend sold a story about their relationship when she was 17, revealing "intimate sexual details."
|@ rosschawkins : Charlotte Church at #leveson : says she kept friends out of her life for fear they were leaking. In fact her phone was hacked|
|@ benfenton : #Church prefers mags eg Hello! because They do take nice photos and they actually print what you say. Lesser of 2 evils. #leveson|
|@ rosschawkins : Charlotte Church at #leveson : threat to kidnap her was published in News o t Wrld asked paper not to say where she lived. They did anyway|
News of the World article published detailing allegations that her father was having an affair. "I see no public interest in this story except to sell papers." Had a huge effect on her mother and a "massive psychological impact on me".
Church talks about the increase in paparazzi focus on her as she got older between the ages of 16 and 20 and believes the media got hold of the fact that she was pregnant through underhand and possible illegal methods.
Tells Leveson about a 'countdown clock' in The Sun running down to Chuch's 16th birthday with the innuendo of her reaching the age of (sexual) consent. "It made me feel horrible... I was really uncomfortable with it."
Church claims that she was asked to sing at Rupert Murdoch's wedding in New York. She was offered a £100,000 fee or assurances that his media organisations' would look 'favourably' on her.