Court requires Jackson to have medical check: Singer must disclose medical records if libel case is to proceed

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL JACKSON will have to undergo a medical examination if he wishes to pursue a libel action against allegations that he was 'hideously disfigured' by plastic surgery, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

The court issued a stay on proceedings initiated by the singer over articles published in the Daily Mirror in 1992 until he is examined by a medical expert nominated by the defence in 'proper lighting conditions'.

The singer will be able to have his own doctor in attendance and will have to provide in advance medical records of his cosmetic surgery.

Jackson has supplied the court with a sworn statement admitting four different plastic surgery procedures on his nose and the creation of a chin cleft. He made no mention of surgery on his lips, cheeks or eyes.

Yesterday's appeal, brought by the Daily Mirror's publishers, MGN Ltd, and the newspaper's former editor Richard Stott, overturned an earlier decision by Mr Justice Drake. George Carman QC, for the newspaper, argued that the singer's experts would have an unfair advantage if the defence was not allowed a medical examination and access to records before trial.

Lord Williams QC, for Jackson, said the details were irrelevant to the issue before the jury - whether the star's face was disfigured in the way alleged in the articles.

Lord Justice Neill, sitting with Lord Justices Steyn and Gibson, ruled that the defence would be at a disadvantage if it was required to supply medical reports based solely on photographs of the singer.

'I can't consider any circumstances in which a medical witness would be invited to express an expert view about the condition of a patient without having any access to that person,' he said.

Jackson claims the articles meant his features had become 'hideously distorted' and his face 'hideously disfigured' by plastic surgery. He subsequently kept out of the limelight, wore dark glasses to disguise his condition, and banned photographers from taking close-up shots.

The singer also alleges malice, arguing the photographs used by the paper gave distorted and misleading impression of his appearance.

The Daily Mirror denies the allegations, pleading justification and fair comment.

It claims the articles meant that the singer had caused his face to become 'disfigured, scarred and a mess' through extensive plastic surgery stemming from his yearning for perfect youthful looks and a desire to stay young.

(Photograph omitted)