Jackson sets up website to proclaim his innocence

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The Independent US

Michael Jackson, who faces criminal charges and a possible trial for alleged molestation of a 12-year-old boy at his Neverland ranch, set up a special website yesterday to proclaim his innocence and provide a direct line of communication to his fans.

In a signed letter on the site, www.mjnews.us, the 45-year-old pop star said people were claiming to speak on his behalf but had no authorisation from him. "For that reason, I have set up this website to serve as a source official communications on my case," he wrote. "Any statement that does not appear on this website must be considered unauthorised."

Mr Jackson insisted he was innocent and said the accusations were "predicated on a big lie". But he said he could not be drawn into specifics. "Because the charges are so serious, I hope you all will understand, on the advice of my attorneys, I will be limited in what I can say about the situation. There will be times when I cannot comment at all. No doubt, this will be frustrating for all of us."

Mr Jackson was arrested in Santa Barbara on Thursday and freed shortly afterwards on $3m bail. He had flown in on a private jet from Las Vegas, where he was shooting a video to promote his latest album of greatest hits, and flew back to Las Vegas after he was released. His first court appointment is on 9 January.

The actress Elizabeth Taylor, who married Larry Fortensky at Mr Jackson's ranch in 1991, said in a statement yesterday: "I believe Michael is innocent and that he will be vindicated."