Jackson death 'being treated as murder'

Police trying to establish what killed Michael Jackson have significantly ramped up their investigation and now see his death as a possible murder, it was claimed yesterday.

The website TMZ, which first broke news of the singer's demise, cited "multiple law enforcement sources" in reporting that a full-blown murder inquiry is underway. It centres on Dr Conrad Murray, the physician with Jackson when he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest three weeks ago. An LAPD spokesperson denied the report, but would not rule out homicide as the cause of death. Dr Murray, who was not licensed to prescribe controlled drugs in California, has been interviewed by police, in the company of his team of lawyers.

Suspicions have been raised by his public statements. Although quick – in the days after Jackson's death – to publicly deny reports that he had injected him with Demerol or Oxycontin, the doctor has refused to tell reporters whether he injected him with another potentially deadly drug, Propofol. The reports come a day after police visited the Beverly Hills office of Jackson's former dermatologist Arnold Klein, saying he had not fully complied with a request to issue them subpoenaed medical records.

Their next move should be revealed soon: William Bratton, LA's police chief, said last week that his officers were awaiting the now-imminent results of toxicology tests ordered by the coroner.

"Are we dealing with a homicide? Are we dealing with an accidental overdose?" he said. "Based on those [tests], we will have an idea of what we're dealing with."