British child phenom Charlotte Church—the little girl with "the voice of an angel"—graced Rupert Murdoch's 1999 wedding to Wendi Deng with a song. How sweet! He got her to do it for free by promising not to savage her with his newspapers. Then he savaged her anyway.
Church was a classical singer who first came to fame in England in 1997 at the age of 11. Since then, she's transformed herself into a pop singer and became regular tabloid fodder in the process. According to sworn testimony she offered today to the Leveson Inquiry—a wide-ranging investigation by the British government into England's phone-hacking scandal—she was offered a deal in 1999 by representatives of Rupert Murdoch: Sing at his wedding and get either £100,000 or a promise of gentle coverage:
When I was 13 I was asked to perform at Rupert Murdoch's wedding in New York. When it came to the payment for my work, my management at the time informed me that either there would be a £100,000 fee (which was the biggest fee I'd ever been offered) or if the fee for my performance was waived, I would be looked upon favourabiy by Mr. Murdoch's papers. Despite my teenage business head screaming "think how many tamogotchies you could buy!!", I was pressured into taking the latter option. This strategy failed... for me. In fact Mr Murdoch's newspapers have since been some of the worst offenders, so much so that I have sometimes felt that there has actually been a deliberate agenda.
Here's how Murdoch honored his promise to a 13-year-old girl: The Sun counted down the hours to her 16th birthday, "carrying with it sexually charged and predatory innuendo of a young girl passing the age of consent." When she became pregnant with her daughter, the Sun broke the story in the first trimester, before she'd had the chance to tell her mother. And when her mother became suicidal after her husband cheated on her, the News of the World demanded "an exclusive story of her breakdown, self-harming; and attempted suicide, in exchange for not printing a follow-up story about my father's infidelity." The infidelity, of course was reported elsewhere.
[Images via Getty.]