Bashir keeps quiet as High Court case looms

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The Independent US

Martin Bashir, the television reporter whose documentary on Michael Jackson provided the springboard for the child abuse investigation and subsequent trial, was lying low last night.

Martin Bashir, the television reporter whose documentary on Michael Jackson provided the springboard for the child abuse investigation and subsequent trial, was lying low last night.

Bashir, 42, who works in the United States for the ABC network and Granada Television, was waiting to hear whether Jackson's lawyers will now seek to revive the High Court action lodged after the broadcast of Living with Michael Jackson in February 2003. Although the High Court action, which has been stalled since the start of the criminal case, is only against the television company and not Bashir personally, he would be a witness if it reached court, where his actions during the making of the documentary would come under close scrutiny. He could also face a separate action in US courts.

It was during the documentary that Jackson admitted he shared beds with children although he denied sharing one with Gavin Arvizo.

Bashir, who first came to prominence by interviewing Diana, Princess of Wales, has not yet spoken publicly about the result of the Jackson case, during which he reluctantly gave evidence for the prosecution. A spokeswoman for ABC's 20/20 news show, where he is reportedly on a $1m contract, said: "He may make a statement in the next few days.''

A spokesman for Granada Television said the proceedings issued by Jackson's solicitors in this country in February 2003 had been for breach of contract and copyright. "These proceedings are ongoing and will be defended vigorously.''

The action claimed Bashir had broken agreements to allow Jackson to vet the film before broadcast, not to film his children without the masks they wear in public and not to raise the previous child abuse allegations during interviews. Granada claimed at the time that all procedures during filming had been followed correctly and stressed that it, of its own volition, decided not to show the Jackson children in a way which identified them.

At the time of the programme, Jackson accused Bashir of a "betrayal" and said it was a "travesty of the truth". Jackson also said the documentary had been "designed to celebrate Martin Bashir".

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