Michael Jackson's estate supports French fan groups' case against 'Leaving Neverland'


Entertainment, Hollywood

Jackson's estate has criticised the film, previously calling it 'tabloid character assassination'.

Michael Jackson. (Photo: AP)

Washington DC: Late singer-songwriter Michael Jackson's estate came out in support of two French fans groups that are taking legal action against Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the alleged victims in the documentary titled 'Leaving Neverland', which details allegations of sexual abuse committed by the late King of Pop.

The groups named MJ Street and On The Line had appeared in court in France on Thursday, and were represented by attorney Emmanuel Ludot, who called the HBO documentary's accusations "extremely serious" and likened them to "a genuine lynching" of Jackson, who passed away years back, reported Page Six.

According to the outlet, the fan clubs have sought symbolic damages of one euro each. "The Estate is in full support of Mr Ludot's efforts on behalf of Michael and his beloved fans in France and across the globe that the truth shall ultimately prevail," John Branca, co-executor of the Estate of Michael Jackson, said in a statement.

"We remain hopeful that a victory in France will soon fuel a movement in the United States to finally explore changes in the law to afford defamation protection for the deceased," Branca added.

In both the US and UK, libel protection doesn't extend after a person's death, however, in France, damaging the image of a deceased person is considered a criminal offence. Jackson's estate is involved in a USD 100 million lawsuit against HBO, which it filed in February ahead of the documentary's release.

HBO, however, is immune from a defamation claim because Jackson has passed away, so the estate accused the channel of violating a non-disparagement clause contained in a 1992 contract for a concert film from the singer's 'Dangerous' tour. The clause prohibits HBO from making "disparaging remarks" about Jackson or doing anything that "may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem" the artist's image and reputation.

However, the channel countered the estate's lawsuit and argued that the contract expired once both sides fulfilled their obligations. The late singer's family denounced 'Leaving Neverland' and denied the shocking resurfaced allegations from accusers Robson and Safechuck, as well as past similar accusations made against Jackson, who was acquitted of charges of sexually abusing a different boy, in a 2005 trial, reported E! News.

Following the broadcast of the documentary, several brands like Starbucks and Louis Vuitton have distanced themselves from Jackson. The film stirred controversy, drawing mixed reactions from the public. The late singer's family criticised the film, while, many fans and supporters of Jackson staged protests against the broadcast of the documentary.

A few months back, HBO aired 'Leaving Neverland' which details allegations of sexual abuse committed by the late King of Pop. The documentary tells the story of two men Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Both of the men said that they met Jackson as children when the singer was at the height of his fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They alleged that Jackson sexually abused them, causing them trauma lasting into their adulthood.

Jackson's estate has criticised the film, previously calling it "tabloid character assassination."