Singer Church says mother tried suicide after tabloid story

28th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

British singer Charlotte Church told a press ethics inquiry Monday that her mother attempted suicide partly because Rupert Murdoch's News of the World was going to run a story about her father's affair.

The former child star testified to the Leveson inquiry in London that she needed to hire bodyguards after another Murdoch-owned newspaper, the Sunday Times, misquoted her about the 9/11 attacks when she was only 15.

A private investigator working for the now-defunct News of the World had also illegally hacked the mobile phone voicemails of her family, friends and old boyfriends, she said.

Church added that she had sung at Murdoch's wedding to Wendi Deng when she was 13 and was offered the choice of taking a £100,000 ($155,000, 115,000-euro) fee or sympathetic treatment by his papers. News International denies that claim.

"A lot of this happened when I was just a minor and really young. It has had a psychological effect on me. I would hate to see that to happen to any other child who was in my position," Church, who is now 25, told the inquiry.

Church, who has also entertained Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, late pope John Paul II and US president Bill Clinton, said the News of the World published a story that Church's father had "three-in-a-bed" sex and took cocaine, while also reporting that her mother tried to commit suicide.

She told the inquiry led by senior judge Brian Leveson that her mother's suicide attempt was "at least in part" because she knew the affair story was coming.

Church also hit out at an article in the Sunday Times which she said misquoted her about the bravery of firemen in the September 11, 2001 attacks and was later reprinted in Murdoch's New York Post, causing outrage in the United States.

Earlier, Chris Jefferies -- an innocent man arrested over a high-profile British murder for which a Dutch man was later convicted -- told the inquiry how he was subjected to a "witch-hunt" by the press.

The media probe was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in July amid the furore over the phone-hacking scandal at the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid which has since been shut down.

© 2011 AFP

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