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Michael Jackson “innocent” posters to be removed from London busses following complaint from survivor charity

By | Published on Thursday 14 March 2019

Michael Jackson

Transport For London has said it will remove adverts proclaiming Michael Jackson’s innocence after charity The Survivors Trust raised concerns that they would discourage victims of sexual assault from coming forward.

The adverts – showing Jackson with the word “innocent” over his mouth, plus the slogan “facts don’t lie, people do” – first appeared on busses and bus stops in London last month. This followed a successful crowdfunding campaign by fans to raise £20,000, ahead of the broadcast of the documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’, which tells the story of two men who say they were abused by Jackson as children.

Initially TFL said that the adverts had not broken any of its rules, so had been allowed to go on display. However, it now says that it has decided to remove them, “due to the public sensitivity and concern around their content”.

This follows concerns raised by The Survivors Trust, which offers counselling and other support services to adults and children who have been the victims of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse. The charity said earlier this month that it was “particularly concerned” by TFL’s decision to run an ad campaign “that endorses Jackson’s innocence in the lead up to the documentary’s broadcast”.

“The decision to prioritise advertising revenue over the option of remaining neutral on such an emotive topic is disappointing”, it went on. “The most recent Crime Survey Of England And Wales showed that less than one in five victims of rape or assault by penetration reported this to the police, 25% of these choosing to remain silent as they did not think that they would be believed. An advertising campaign such as this perpetuates this fear amongst survivors and is very misplaced”.

The adverts had been scheduled to stay on display until 24 Mar.

Meanwhile, a producer of ‘The Simpsons’ – Al Jean – has spoken about the recent decision to withdraw from circulation an old episode of the show guest starring Jackson. Jean, who co-wrote the episode, said that the show’s bosses now believe that Jackson used it to “groom” young boys. Speaking to The Daily Beast, he says that withdrawing the episode “wasn’t something that makes me happy” but “it’s something I agree with completely”.

He then adds: “What saddens me is, if you watch that documentary – which I did, and several of us here did – and you watch that [Simpsons] episode, honestly, it looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we’d intended it. It wasn’t just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool. And I strongly believe that”.

“I think it was part of what he used to groom boys”, he goes on. “If you watch the documentary and then you watch that episode, something’s amiss … Nobody’s perfect, and other guest stars have been far from perfect, but this is the only episode where there was a point to the episode that was other than just having the guest star do a comic performance on the guest star’s part, which I didn’t realise at the time”.