Church: 'I sang at his wedding. We'd done a deal'

Charlotte Church says she waived £100,000 fee from Murdoch in return for 'favourable' coverage – only to be phone-hacked

Rupert Murdoch used the power of his global media empire to cut a deal with the singer Charlotte Church that ensured the teenage star sang for free at his wedding in New York, the Leveson Inquiry was told yesterday.

The pact, which encouraged Ms Church to waive her £100,000 performance fee in return for favourable publicity in the Murdoch-owned titles, was accepted by the then 13-year-old singer and her parents after her management told her that Mr Murdoch was a "powerful man".

The wedding in 1999 between Mr Murdoch and Wendi Deng was on a yacht in a Manhattan harbour. "He flew us on his private jet from LA to New York which was amazing," Ms Church recalled. Accompanied on the yacht's grand piano, she sang what Mr Murdoch had requested: the funeral song "Pie Jesu". "He didn't care whether it was a funeral song. He liked it and wanted me to sing it, so I did," the inquiry heard. News International denied the description of the offer.

But whatever promises the Murdoch-owned media gave the Welsh singer, they soon evaporated. The inquiry heard Ms Church deliver a litany of intrusion, negative press and character assassination in which she named most of the group's British titles.

Dressed in a dark suit and with a tidy bobbed haircut, she looked far from the "wild child" image that has accompanied her since she was discovered as "The Voice of an Angel" at the age of 12.

She said everything changed when she hit 14. She said she felt "horrible" when The Sun ran a "count-down clock" in the run-up to her 16th birthday – the date at which she hit the age of consent and sex became legal. Now a prime tabloid target, she said she believed her phone had been hacked when The Sun ran a story that she was pregnant with her first child. "I'd told no one but my family. Doctors knew too," she said.

Under the headline "Church sober shock", the story told of her pregnancy's first trimester and her sadness at not being able to tell her parents first. The News of the World later ran a story headlined: "Church three in a bed cocaine shock" – but it wasn't about the young singer. Her father had been having an affair. She told the inquiry how she had "blanked out how bad these articles were".

Another story followed, claiming that her mother had tried to kill herself "because her husband was a love rat hooked on cocaine and three-in-a-bed sex". Although the paper knew how vulnerable her mother was, she said, "they printed it anyway". She said it was "unnatural for a daughter to know this about her parents" .

Ms Church admitted she had been given no training in how to deal with becoming famous. "There is no rule book – I've tried lots of different approaches. They made up stories and used old photographs," she said.

Now 25, she said she believed her phone was first hacked when she was 17. This year police showed her entries from notebooks taken from Glenn Mulcaire, the investigator commissioned by the NOTW. She said the numbers, pin numbers and names of family and friends were "quite substantial". Describing herself as "strong" and "a survivor" she said he had been "made into a caricature for so long – that it really isn't me."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there