Adverts declaring Michael Jackson innocent taken off London buses

Transport for London orders removal based on ‘public sensitivity and concern’; Simpsons producer meanwhile suggests Jackson appearance may have helped groom boys

Transport for London (TfL) is to remove advertising that claims Michael Jackson is innocent of charges of sexual abuse against children.

Adverts with the slogan: “Facts don’t lie. People do” appeared on buses and bus stops, in the wake of the documentary Leaving Neverland being screened on Channel 4. The film features testimony from two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that Jackson sexually abused them from the ages of seven and 10 onwards.

The posters had been funded by a crowdfunding campaign which raised £20,000, with campaigners arguing: “We would not think twice in turning our backs on his legacy, if we for one second felt that there was any truth at all in these heinous events.”

Speaking to the BBC, TfL said the posters would be removed, and “have been rejected due to the public sensitivity and concern around their content”.

The Survivors Trust, a charity for survivors of sexual abuse, had criticised TfL for allowing the posters to be displayed, saying the advertising “perpetuates fear” that victims will not be believed, adding: “The decision to prioritise advertising revenue over the option of remaining neutral on such an emotive topic is disappointing.”

One of the crowdfunded adverts in defence of Michael Jackson on a London bus.
One of the crowdfunded adverts in defence of Michael Jackson on a London bus. Photograph: @PenneyDesign

After weathering numerous allegations of child sexual abuse before his death in 2009, Jackson’s legacy as one of the greatest pop stars of all time has been badly damaged in the wake of the documentary, despite his estate, relatives and hardcore fans making vociferous denials of any wrongdoing. Radio stations have removed his songs from playlists, and a new biographical musical, Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough, has been postponed.

A 1991 episode of The Simpsons that Jackson guest starred in was withdrawn from streaming services and TV channels by the show’s producers, who said it was “the only choice to make”.

Simpsons producer Al Jean has now suggested that Jackson used his guest appearance to groom further victims. “It looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we’d intended it,” Jean said in an interview with the Daily Beast. “It wasn’t just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool. And I strongly believe that. That, to me, is my belief, and it’s why I think removing it is appropriate.

“I think it was part of what he used to groom boys. I really don’t know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that’s what I think.”


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Simpsons producers withdraw Michael Jackson episode
Child abuse allegations in Leaving Neverland prompt cartoon’s makers to act

Sarah Marsh

08, Mar, 2019 @12:49 PM

Article image
The Michael Jackson accusers: ‘The abuse didn't feel strange, because he was like a god’
Wade Robson and James Safechuck speak about their childhood experiences with the pop superstar – and Dan Reed explains why he felt he had to expose their allegations in his film Leaving Neverland

Hadley Freeman

04, Mar, 2019 @11:43 AM

Article image
Leaving Neverland: first trailer for 'devastating' Michael Jackson documentary
HBO/Channel 4 production features the testimonies of two men who allege the singer sexually abused them as children

Benjamin Lee

19, Feb, 2019 @7:32 PM

Article image
Michael Jackson estate suing HBO for $100m over tell-all documentary
The singer’s estate is claiming the network is breaching a 1992 non-disparagement contract by airing a two-part documentary alleging sexual abuse against children

Guardian staff

21, Feb, 2019 @8:00 PM

Article image
Leaving Neverland review – astonishing accounts of Michael Jackson's sexual abuse
This relentlessly spare documentary confines itself to the testimony of how two boys were groomed

Lucy Mangan

06, Mar, 2019 @10:50 PM

Article image
Too toxic to touch? Tribute acts in the age of #MeToo
You’d think it’d be a hard time to be a Michael Jackson impersonator – yet business is booming for some acts mimicking problematic stars. Jack Needham finds out more

Jack Needham

05, Apr, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
Michael Jackson concert films aired to distract from documentary
Singer’s estate makes live films from Bucharest and London available to stream as Leaving Neverland documentary makes child sexual abuse allegations

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

04, Mar, 2019 @5:17 PM

Article image
Michael Jackson estate launches PR blitz as documentary airs in UK
Lawsuits also issued to offset impact of Leaving Neverland, which details alleged abuse

Lanre Bakare

07, Mar, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
'Too big to cancel': can we still listen to Michael Jackson?
His records were woven into the lives of millions – but Leaving Neverland appears to make clear the King of Pop was a paedophile. So can we divorce the music from his alleged crimes?

Greg Tate, Alexis Petridis, Lyndsey Winship, Priya Elan, Chuck Klosterman, Laura Snapes and Simran Hans

01, Mar, 2019 @6:01 AM

Article image
America faces soul-searching over Michael Jackson
Jackson is accused of sexually abusing boys, prompting fresh soul-searching in what could be a national reckoning

Tom Dart

09, Mar, 2019 @6:00 AM