Michael Jackson: Calls to remove London bus adverts protesting singer’s innocence
Transport for London is facing calls to remove bus adverts proclaiming Michael Jackson’s innocence in the wake of child sexual abuse allegations against the singer.
The adverts – which follow a £20,000 crowdfunding campaign backed by Jackson’s supporters – have appeared on double-decker buses across the capital.
They feature the pop star’s face with the word “innocent” over his mouth, along with the slogan: “Facts don’t lie. People do.”
It comes after the Leaving Neverland documentary, broadcast on Channel 4 last week, featured claims by two men who say they were sexually abused by Jackson as children.
The Survivors Trust, which supports victims of rape and child sexual abuse, told Sky News the adverts were “really inappropriate” and called for Transport for London (TfL) to take them down.
“The decision to prioritise advertising revenue over the option of remaining neutral on such an emotive topic is disappointing,” it added.
The trust said fewer than one in five victims of rape or assault by penetration reported the attacks to police, while a quarter of those victims remain silent because they do not think they will be believed.
“An advertising campaign such as this perpetuates this fear amongst survivors and is very misplaced,” it added.
The adverts have appeared after a crowdfunding page, entitled Michael Jackson Innocent Campaign, hit its £20,000 target within a month.
According to the page’s author, the campaign decided to post the adverts on London buses because “they are iconic and instantly recognisable across the world.”
The campaign is reportedly being led by former Big Brother UK contestant and Jackson fanatic Seany O’Kane.
In Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson and James Safechuck claim they were molested by Jackson when they were children – and described the alleged incidents in graphic detail.
The singer’s estate has dismissed the allegations and denounced HBO and Channel 4’s decision to air them, claiming the programme spreads falsehoods about a man who is not alive to defend himself.
Responding to criticism of the bus adverts, TfL said the advertising campaign “is compliant with our advertising policy”.
“Prior to running the campaign, advice was taken from the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and our legal team,” a spokeswoman added.
A spokeswoman for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The Mayor did not approve this campaign. This was a decision made by TfL in line with their advertising policy.” – bbc.com