Former child star Mark Lester defends Michael Jackson over abuse allegations
Former Oliver! actor Mark Lester has defended his late friend Michael Jackson over allegations that he sexually abused children.
Two men – James Safechuck and Wade Robson – allege in a Channel 4 documentary that they were sexually abused by the King of Pop.
Lester, 60, who shot to fame as the star of the film Oliver!, said the programme, Leaving Neverland, which is due to air in the UK on Wednesday and Thursday night, made him “feel quite sick”.
“This is not the Michael Jackson I knew for over 30 years. This is not the man that my children knew,” he told ITV show Lorraine.
He claimed the documentary was “sensationalist”, saying: “In three to four weeks … it will be old news and gone and forgotten.”
Lester, who was godfather to Jackson’s children and was in the hotel room when the Thriller singer dangled his baby son Blanket over a balcony, said: “I don’t really know what the object of the exercise is here…
“Child abuse is awful … I can’t fathom what this is trying to achieve.
“I never saw … or even had the slightest notion that there was anything untoward with Michael…
“I was godfather to his children. He was godfather to my children.”
He said that being in a room with Jackson’s accusers “would make my flesh crawl”, adding: “I was trying to watch it (the documentary) with a very open mind and nothing in my mind has changed about Michael.”
Lester donated sperm to Jackson and believes he could be the biological father of the singer’s daughter, Paris.
Meanwhile, Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed hit back at suggestions that Jackson’s accusers are financially motivated.
The Jackson family have denied the allegations against the late singer, saying the film is “all about the money”.
But Reed told Good Morning Britain that Mr Safechuck and Mr Robson “want justice, they’re not fussed about the money”.
And he said: “No-one disputes the fact that he (Jackson) slept with little boys. If this was a guy down the road, your next-door neighbour who was constantly spending the night with little boys, what would you think?
“Is it just because of Michael’s talent as a performer that we allow him to get away with child rape?”
The singer’s estate launched a lawsuit against Channel 4’s co-producers, US TV network HBO, claiming that damages from the film could exceed 100 million dollars (£77 million).
Mr Safechuck was 10 years old when he met Jackson in 1986 on the set of a Pepsi advert.
He alleges that the King Of Pop, who throughout his life denied any allegations of sexually abusing children, showered him with gifts while grooming both him and his family.
Mr Robson, an Australian, was five when he first met Jackson after winning a dance competition in Brisbane. He alleges similar abuse.
In the wake of Leaving Neverland, there have been reports of radio stations dropping Jackson’s music from their playlists, while some fans on social media have said they are boycotting the star.
Leaving Neverland is due to air on Channel 4 on March 6 and March 7.