Wednesday 9 May 2012, 11:29 | By

George Michael: I turned down Leveson

Media

George Michael

As celebrity phone hacking victims such as Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church all appeared in front of the government’s Leveson Inquiry into media ethics during its first chapter, it was generally expected that George Michael – always open about his dislike of the British tabloids – would follow.

But he didn’t. And when that phase of the inquiry finished, we wondered where he’d gone for a bit, and then forgot all about it. But Michael has now claimed that he was asked to go up in front of Leveson but declined.

The claim came following a lengthy rant on Twitter about the British press and the current government, beginning with an expression of disappointment that no newspapers had picked up on comments he made last week about gay teenagers in the US being taken to bootcamps in order to be ‘cured’ of their homosexuality. His attention quickly turned to The Daily Mail, which he accused of being “every bit as guilty of hacking and lying as Murdoch’s unch”, before moving onto recent events in the Leveson Inquiry.

He continued: “[Murdoch] has been called ‘unfit’ to run a major media company by MPs. Understatement of the year? And it’s so funny that the Conservatives in government are defending him! Trying to cover their arses when those lily white buttocks of theirs are already on display for the whole world to see. Cameron must be the most cowardly PM we’ve seen for decades”.

Finally, he said: “I was asked to talk to the Leveson inquiry, but I declined. It’s all bullshit. It has been several years since two hacking journalists were sent to prison for bugging the royal family … Shame on our political system for its refusal to take this further. The day they make this sham real and start genuinely prosecuting people, I would more than happy to help. Until then, what’s the point?”

But a spokesman for the inquiry subsequently told The Guardian: “The inquiry has never asked George Michael to appear”.

This morning Michael took to Twitter again to respond to this claim, and to dish a bit more dirt. He wrote: “So apparently I’m lying about being approached by the Leveson Inquiry. A ‘spokesman’ says that I was never asked to participate. By which I suppose they mean they didn’t actually have my phone number, so they spoke to my legal team. Funnily enough, had they wanted my phone number they could probably have got it from News International”

He continued: “Truth is, though I didn’t want to participate, I sent the inquiry a letter from the poor man who was blackmailed (literally) into giving News International a completely fictional account of meeting me on Hampstead Heath. Poor bastard… he wrote a letter to me to apologise for the story, which made the front page of the News Of The World several years ago”.

Michael went on to say that the man in question explained how two journalists had told him that they had photographs of him having sex with a celebrity on the Heath and that they would publish them unless he told his side of the story. Unaware of who the celebrity was supposed to be, he said (according to Michael) that he was bullied into handing over a statement confirming that he’d had an encounter with a man there, but was only told the story would claim the other man was George Michael once he had handed over his statement. Upon being told this, he apparently replied: “But that’s impossible because the man I met was about six foot four and had a Dutch accent”.

Michael concluded: “I thought that the letter, written by a man whose only crime was to be chosen as someone perfect to humiliate me, was a perfect example of just how horrific the methods of News International had become, and that the inquiry may be more sympathetic to a member of the public than just another celeb complaining about their lot. So I sent it to them. I was going to save it for the memoirs, but fuck it”.

He concluded: “Oh, and I forgot to mention that I’m five foot eleven, and can’t do a Dutch accent to save my life”.

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