Charlotte Church tells of family's treatment by media

Charlotte Church at the Leveson Inquiry: November 2011

Singer Charlotte Church has told how her mother's mental health suffered when the News of the World published a story exposing her father's affair.

She told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics that her mother had attempted suicide "at least in part" because she had known the story was coming out.

Later Anne Diamond said the media had been on her doorstep within an hour of the cot death of her son in 1991.

The broadcaster said the press had "trampled all over our dignity".

During Monday's morning evidence, the landlord wrongly arrested over Joanna Yeates's murder, Christopher Jefferies, said the media had "shamelessly vilified" him.

Mr Jefferies said the tabloid press had decided he was guilty of the murder of Miss Yeates in Bristol in 2010. Another man was convicted of her killing last month.

"They embarked on a frenzied campaign to blacken my character by publishing a series of very serious allegations about me which were completely untrue," his statement said.

Massive impact

In her evidence, Ms Church, 25, said the NoW had already published a story talking about her mother's mental health, "so they knew how vulnerable she was but still published the story".

"I just really hated the fact that my parents who had never been in this industry - apart from looking after me - were being exposed and vilified in this fashion.

"It had a massive, massive impact on my family life," she said.

Anne Diamond: "Our front door... filled up with hundreds of press''

Ms Church also said the Sun newspaper had revealed her first pregnancy before she had told her family.

"It just had a massive impact on my mother's health, her mental health, her hospital treatment - the only way they know about that was either through [phone] hacking or the bribing of hospital staff."

Ms Church said at first she had been treated with kid gloves when she became famous aged 12, dubbed "The Voice of an Angel". But she said she had experienced " the "worst excess of the press" between the ages of 16 to 20.

She told the hearing paparazzi had taken pictures up her skirt, there were photographers outside her house on most days and her manager had found evidence of a camera hidden in a shrub outside her home.

Ms Church said she had been "totally appalled" by a clock on the Sun's website which counted down to her 16th birthday, an "innuendo" highlighting the fact she was reaching the age of sexual consent, she said.

"It was just horrible, I was a 16 year-old-girl and was uncomfortable with it," she said.

Pregnancy revealed

The inquiry heard how the Sun had published a story about her being pregnant for the first time before she had told her family.

She said she believed journalists had obtained their information through hacking voicemail messages from the doctor or through other surveillance, although added she did not have any evidence.

"I had not told anyone apart from when I had gone to have my initial scan. I can't see how it came from any other area. My family were really upset that I had not told them first," she said.

Ms Church also explained that she waived a £100,000 fee to sing at Rupert Murdoch's wedding when she was 13 in exchange for a promise of favourable publicity from his newspapers.

She said she remembered wondering "why on earth would anybody take a favour over £100,000?" but was urged by her management to take the favour from a "powerful man".

The inquiry heard News International denied this had happened.

Ms Church said newspaper coverage had adversely affected her career as it was difficult for her to be taken seriously as her credibility had been "blown to bits".

She said she had attended the inquiry because she did not want her children to go through the same thing.

"A lot of this happened to me whilst I was a minor and whilst I was really very young. It was really hard and it has had a psychological effect upon me. It almost feels like they put you through this psychological grinding, test your strength, and you come out the other side and it just keeps happening."

Vendetta

In her evidence, Ms Diamond, 57, described the aftermath of her son Sebastian's death.

"Our front door was very quickly filled up with hundreds of press. And there was one incident when a female reporter tried to rush the door. She rang the door and she had a big bouquet of flowers and when the chain had to be removed to open the door, she rushed in."

She said she had written to every Fleet Street editor "begging them to stay away from the small, private family funeral", but the Sun published a photograph on its front page.

"On the day of our little boy's funeral - and this was held at a very remote country church - there was a photographer on the public highway. Here we were, a young couple at our child's funeral, and they took this photograph."

Ms Diamond also suggested Mr Murdoch's editors had waged a vendetta against her after she asked him how he slept at night knowing his newspapers ruined people's lives.

While taking part in a Channel 4 documentary earlier this year she learned Mr Murdoch's former butler, Philip Townsend, recalled Mr Murdoch had "indicated to his editors" that she was "a person from that point onwards to be targeted".

She said the Sun offered her nanny £30,000 for a story and infiltrated the hospital where she was giving birth by impersonating a doctor.

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