Jacko family to appear as witnesses in Channel 4 libel action

Members of the Jackson pop dynasty will be called to take the witness stand when television broadcaster Channel 4 defends a libel action in the High Court in June.

5RB heavyweight Adrienne Page QC, who recently won a major case for science writer Simon Singh (1 April 2010), has been instructed by Susan Aslan of Aslan Charles Kousetta to lead the case for the broadcaster. She will also represent Studio Lambert and documentary producer Jane Preston, who are also named as defendants.

Page will go head to head with Ron Thwaites QC of Ely Place, who has been instructed by M Law partner Chris Hutchings for claimant Matt Fiddes.

The libel action centres on a documentary first aired in November 2008 named The Jacksons are Coming. The documentary followed Michael Jackson’s (pictured) brother Tito and his entourage when they stayed in North Devon for five weeks as they apparently sought a place to live in the area.

According to Fiddes, who appeared in the programme, the Jacksons never intended to move to the area. In reality it was a publicity stunt dreamt up by Fiddes and Tito Jackson and designed to raise their profile, the claimant alleges.

In his libel claim Fiddes alleges that the three defendants portrayed him in the documentary as having betrayed the trust of the Jackson family by leaking their every move and selling stories about them to the media. This led to them abandoning their intention to purchase a home in Devon and to two members being forced to return to Los Angeles.

It is understood that members of the Jackson family will be called upon to give evidence in front of a jury trial during a 20-day High Court hearing listed for June.

In a statement Aslan Charles Kousetta said: “Channel 4, Studio Lambert and producer Jane Preston are confident that they can and will demonstrate the honesty and truthfulness of this documentary at trial.

“This is a fiercely fought libel action where the claimant is funded under a CFA agreement. We’re robustly defending the claim on justification and fair comment.”

Earlier this month, Page was instructed by Bryan Cave associate Robert Dougans to act for Singh in defence of a libel action brought by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA).

Last week, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge ruled that Singh’s legal team could use the fair comment defence in that libel action.