Singer Charlotte Church rose to fame as a young child with the voice of an angel -- but she says her reputation was utterly destroyed by the press when she was a teenager.
The singer and talk show host testified to the Leveson Inquiry on ne'er-do-wells in the British press that Rupert Murdoch specifically tried to bribe her to curry favorable coverage -- and that her acceptance failed, leaving her thrown to the wolves and her reputation in tatters.
"I remember being told that Rupert Murdoch had asked me to sing at his wedding to Wendi Deng and it would take place on his yacht in New York," Church testified.
"I remember being told that the offer of money or the offer of the favor, in order to basically get good press, to be looked upon favorably. And I also remember being 13 and thinking, 'Why on earth would anybody take a favor over £100,000?'"
Church says she and her mother wanted to take the pay, but her management advised her to take the bribe and do the gig for free. She did so, only to have her life torn apart by the press anyway.
"While newspapers such as Mr. Murdoch's have not helped my career, they certainly damaged it," she said.
"In fact, Mr. Murdoch's newspapers have since been some of the worst offenders, so much that I have sometimes felt that there has actually been a deliberate agenda."
In particular, Church was "totally appalled" over a clock on The Sun's website counting down the days until her 16th birthday when she would reach the age of sexual consent, as well as publishing the news that she was pregnant before she had told her family. She believes they gained that information by hacking into her phone as they did with Sienna Miller.
"A lot of this happened when I was a minor and while I was very young," Church said. "It was very hard and has had a psychological effect on me. It feels like they put you through this psychological grind and test your strength."
"I wanted to show through my experiences how I think it is imperative that children are protected," she explained.
"Also after becoming a mother myself of two young children, I really want to be able to protect my children in the future as much as possible. Their privacy is their right."
News International denied Church's claim of a bribe.
Image courtesy WENN.com
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