Charlotte Church’s former agent has hit back at claims the singer was pressured to perform at Rupert Murdoch’s wedding in exchange for positive press.
Jonathan Shalit has written to Lord Justice Leveson describing Church’s testimony at the inquiry into press ethics as “fundamentally inaccurate and damaging” in a letter obtained by the Daily Mail.
The singer told Leveson in November she had been pressured by her management into waiving a £100,000 fee because the media mogul was “a very powerful man”.
Charlotte Church said she didn't want to perform for free but understood it was necessary to get positive press
In her witness statement, Church wrote: "Despite my teenage business head screaming, 'Think how many (digital toy) Tamogotchis you could buy!' I was pressured into taking the latter option.
"'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?'.''
Charlotte Church said she was pressured into performing for free in exchange for good press.
Although the singer appeared at the inquiry almost a year ago, Shalit said he felt compelled to address the claims after they were made again in an interview in the Guardian, an article which also saw her former agent accused of exploiting her financially and labelled “odd”.
The two parted ways more than a decade ago, in an acrimonous split in which Shalit received a £2m out-of-court settlement.
In the letter Shalit writes: "In this interview Charlotte repeats the claim she made at your enquiry when she said that the offer made to her through her manager at the time (me) to sing at Rupert Murdoch's wedding in June 1999 was a choice of either a £100,000 fee or favourable publicity.
"This is simply not true and distorts the facts. Money was never discussed as part of these negotiations and no figure of £100,000 - or any other financial figure - was ever discussed as an appearance fee at the wedding.
Shalit said he felt compelled to write to Leveson because the allegations were so damaging
"The background is that, at that time, I was seeking to launch Charlotte's career in America and had been asking for help from all my professional contacts and, indeed, everyone with whom I had any sort of relationship.
"Quite simply, when I was able to help create the opportunity for Charlotte to sing at Mr Murdoch's wedding I saw it as an unparalleled opportunity to secure the exposure from the Murdoch Empire both in print press and broadcast to advance Charlotte's American career.
"It was, in anyone's books, a great deal all round and one on which I have been complimented since. I am also bound to say that, contrary to what was implicit in the evidence given to your enquiry by Charlotte Church, Mr Murdoch honoured totally his side of the deal."
"I do not think that it is right or fair that wrong statements given by Charlotte under the protection of your enquiry should be allowed to form the basis of long running and oft-repeated stories which are fundamentally inaccurate and damaging to the reputation of other parties.
"The very remit of your enquiry was to attempt to regulate against the appearance of such stories rather than, inadvertently, to help spawn and perpetuate them."
Shalit won a £2m payoff from Church following a bitter legal battle
Church has been a vocal patron of the Hacked Off lobby group, who are campaigning for David Cameron to accept the recommendations by the Leveson Inquiry when they are published next month. The singer took on Murdoch on Twitter earlier this month after he labelled “scumbag celebrities” for trying to push for privacy laws.
A lawyer for Church insisted the singer stands by her testimony.
A statement from her legal team reads, "For the avoidance of doubt, our client stands by the evidence she gave under oath at the Leveson inquiry."