Channel 4 to air controversial new Michael Jackson documentary

Leaving Neverland speaks to men who say they were abused by the singer in a two-part film that has already outraged the Jackson estate

SANTA MARIA, CA - JUNE 13:  Michael Jackson prepares to enter the Santa Barbara County Superior Court to hear the verdict read in his child molestation case June 13, 2005 in Santa Maria, California. After seven days of deliberation the jury has reached a not guilty verdict on all 10 counts in the trial against Michael Jackson. Jackson was charged in a 10-count indictment with molesting a boy, plying him with liquor and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He pleaded innocent.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian-Pool/Getty Images)

Channel 4 is facing a backlash from the family of Michael Jackson for a new documentary which is understood to make fresh allegations about the late pop star.

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The broadcaster has commissioned Leaving Neverland in co-production with American giant HBO and British filmmaker Dan Reed.

The two-parter, made by Reed, contains interviews with two men who claim they were abused by Jackson when they were children.

According to C4, the men, who are now in their 30s, claim they were aged seven and ten when Jackson befriended them and their families.

The broadcaster has not disclosed the identity of the men.

A statement from the Sundance Film Festival, which will premiere the documentary in two parts on 26th and 27th January, describes the project in the following terms:

“At the height of his stardom Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged seven and ten, and their families. Now in their 30s, they tell the story of how they were sexually abused by Jackson, and how they came to terms with it years later.”

On Thursday representatives for Jackson’s estate issued a statement condemning the documentary which is expected to air on Channel 4 this spring.

Speaking to the website TMZ, representatives from the estate said the film was “another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson … just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible film-maker would involve himself with this project.”

The two-part film is directed by Reed, who is also behind documentaries including The Valley, Terror in Mumbai and The Paedophile Hunter.

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Jackson died on 25th June 2009 aged 50 after receiving a lethal dose of a painkilling anaesthetic.