Jackson in threat to ruin jet firm over secret tape

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The Independent US

Michael Jackson's legal team is threatening to put a private jet company out of business after a secret videotape was supposedly made of the pop star talking to his lead attorney as he flew to Santa Barbara to surrender on child molestation charges last week.

Continuing a public relations offensive aimed at generating sympathy for his beleaguered client, Mark Geragos, Mr Jackson's lead lawyer, said he had obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent circulation of the videotape. He called it a violation of attorney-client privilege and the latest in a long series of attempts to besmirch his client's reputation.

Mr Geragos said: "We will put XtraJet [the plane company] out of business for this outrageous act. Michael Jackson is no longer going to be on the receiving end of every scurrilous accusation known to man." Mr Jackson has not enjoyed the best of media coverage in recent days, as images have been flashed around the world of him entering the Santa Barbara county jail in handcuffs to face arrest for alleged sexual impropriety with a 12-year-old boy staying at his palatial Neverland Ranch.

Yesterday, legal experts expressed sympathy for the apparent violation of his constitutional right to talk to his lawyer in private. It is not clear who might have made the tape, or what has happened to it. The vehemence of Mr Geragos's rhetoric suggested some degree of fear that a copy of it ­ legal or otherwise ­ might easily surface on the internet.

Ever since Mr Jackson's arrest warrant was first made public a week ago, he and his representatives have argued that charges of sexual misconduct with pre-teen children are a deliberately provocative means of cornering him into a lucrative financial settlement.

The Santa Barbara district attorney's office, which has yet to file formal charges against the singer, insists that the accusations are serious.