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Church wedding fee claim 'not true'

Charlotte Church's claim that she waived a £100,000 fee to perform at Rupert Murdoch's wedding in favour of positive coverage in his publications is "simply not true and distorts the facts", her former manager has said.

Jonathan Shalit has written to Lord Justice Leveson claiming Church's evidence to his inquiry into press standards is untrue.

Last November Church, dubbed the Voice of an Angel, told the Leveson Inquiry that she agreed to waive a £100,000 fee for singing at Murdoch's 1999 wedding to Wendi Deng in exchange for a promise of future favourable coverage in his papers.

She claimed that, aged just 13, she wanted to take the money but was persuaded by her management that she should go for the option of being "looked on favourably" by a "powerful man" like Mr Murdoch.

But Mr Shalit, Church's manager at the time, has written to Lord Justice Leveson, saying the evidence was being "quoted and re-quoted and is in danger, wrongly, of being taken as gospel". The pair parted ways more than a decade ago in an acrimonious split.

In his letter to the Leveson Inquiry chairman, Mr Shalit said Church had repeated her claims in a recent newspaper interview, saying the offer made to her through Mr Shalit was either a £100,000 fee or favourable publicity.

"This is simply not true and distorts the facts," he said. "Money was never discussed as part of these negotiations and no figure of £100,000 - or any other financial figure - was ever discussed as an appearance fee at the wedding. The background is that, at that time, I was seeking to launch Charlotte's career in America and had been asking for help from all my professional contacts and, indeed, everyone with whom I had any sort of relationships.

"Quite simply, when I was able to help create the opportunity for Charlotte to sing at Mr Murdoch's wedding I saw it as an unparalleled opportunity to secure the exposure from the Murdoch Empire both in print press and broadcast to advance Charlotte's American career. It was, in anyone's books, a great deal all round and one on which I have been complimented since."

He also said that Mr Murdoch "honoured totally his side of the deal".

But in her evidence to the inquiry, Church claimed that the strategy had failed and Murdoch-owned newspapers were "some of the worst offenders".

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