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George Michael's sister dies on Christmas Day, exactly three years after singing star

George Michael performing in 2012
George Michael performing in 2012
Melanie Panayiotou

By Claire O'Boyle

George Michael's sister Melanie Panayiotou has died - exactly three years after the singer's death on Christmas Day 2016.

The family confirmed in a statement she had "passed away suddenly".

According to reports, Ms Panayiotou was discovered by her sister Yioda Panayiotou at her home in Hampstead, north London, on Christmas Day.

Former Wham! Star Michael died of natural causes aged 53.

In a statement yesterday the family's lawyer John Reid said: "We can confirm that, very tragically, Melanie has passed away suddenly.

"We would simply ask that the family's privacy be respected at this very sad time. There will be no further comment."

In a statement the Metropolitan Police said: "Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 19.35hrs on Wednesday, 25 December to reports of the sudden death of a woman, aged in her 50s, at an address in Oak Hill Park, NW3.

"The death is not being treated as suspicious by police. A report will be compiled for the Coroner into the circumstances."

Just two days before her death, hairdresser Ms Panayiotou had released a statement along with her sister Yioda, their father Jack and the pop star's former manager David Austin.

The December 23 post, entitled 'Merry Christmas 2019 - A Message From George's Family' and shared on the singer's official website, said: "We know how much his lyrics can offer support when things are tough and help celebrate when times are good and life is going well... and that is just as powerful now as if he were still here with us and as many of you say in your messages, it's a gift."

The message also thanked fans for embracing the film Last Christmas, based on Michael's work and starring Game Of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke, adding the movie would be there to remember the singer and his music in the future.

The family also said they would be "swerving the bad and enjoying the good as much as we can this coming year", adding: "We are, as usual, staying as positive as possible, which is what we and Yog (George) would wish for you all."

The Careless Whisper singer's family also encouraged fans to "keep on doing those good deeds in his memory, 'paying it forward' if you can".

Michael - whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - sold more than 100 million albums during his career. He left the bulk of his multi-million pound fortune to his sisters.

The star was said to be especially close to Melanie, who travelled the world with him.

Singer Michael was buried at Highgate West Cemetery in North London alongside his mother Lesley Angold, who died of cancer in 1997 aged 57.

Following his death a post-mortem found he had died from heart disease and a build-up of fat in his liver.

Stories of the musician's many philanthropic acts and donations to charity emerged after his death, including reports of major contributions to organisations like Childline, Sport Relief and the Terrence Higgins Trust.

He was also said to have carried out a number of extraordinary individual acts of kindness, including paying £15,000 towards a couple's IVF treatment.

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