Mother of Jackson children 'to seek custody'

Debbie Rowe, the mother of two of Michael Jackson's children, Prince Michael, 12, and Paris Michael Katherine,11, told a television station in Los Angeles last night that she intended to file for custody for both of them.

The latest salvo in the gathering legal storms surrounding the former King of Pop one week after his mysterious death came as video emerged from a dress rehearsal for the series of concerts he was due this month to undertake at the O2 Arena in London that seemed to confirm claims that he was perfectly fit.

President Barack Obama meanwhile told the Associated Press last night that he grew up with the music of Mr Jackson and still has many of his songs on his iPod.

Senior executives at AEG, the US-based concert organiser that was expecting to stage the 50 Jackson come-back concerts in London, used the two minutes of video footage to underscore their claims that the entertainer was apparently in perfect health before his death. AEG is hoping to collect insurance for the cancellation of least a portion of the concert series.

The video showed Mr Jackson in the midst of an energetic routine at the dress rehearsal on Tuesday, two days before his passing. He is clearly very thin, but does not seem to have trouble keeping up with vigorous dance steps and his signature voice seems firm and confident. The full video of the dress rehearsal is bound to become hugely valuable in itself and may help AEG off-set any losses. The will dated 2002 of Mr Jackson named his mother, Katherine Jackson, as the guardian of all three of his children, including Blanket who was born for him by a surrogate mother. In warning that she will seek custody, Ms Rowe also said she plans to ask a judge for a restraining order on Joe Jackson, the late singer's father. A guardianship hearing is scheduled in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday.

It meanwhile appeared that the memorial service for the singer and dancer will take place at the 20,000-seat Staples Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday although his brother, Jermaine, said last night that he is still hoping to see his brother buried at his Neverland ranch.

Mr Obama said of the singer that "his brilliance as a performer also was paired with a tragic and, in many ways, sad personal life". He added: "I'm glad to see that he is being remembered primarily for the great joy he bought to a lot of people through his extremely gifts as an entertainer."

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