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Singer Charlotte Church: Press lies, attacks destroyed my credibility and career
LONDON (AP) ' Singer Charlotte Church told Britain's media ethics inquiry that persistent press lies about her had blown her credibility "to bits" and badly damaged her career.
She also said Monday that press intrusion had a devastating impact on her family life and particularly on her mother, who she said had tried to kill herself in part because she knew a newspaper article would detail her husband's extramarital affair.
The former teenage singing sensation described how cameramen tried to take photos up her skirt and down her blouse and published "intimate" details about her sex life when she was just 17.
"I couldn't get my head around that," said Church, 25, who blamed tabloid phone hacking for much of her lost privacy.
"I've been made a caricature for so long, and this person portrayed in the tabloids really isn't me," she told the committee in calm, measured tones. "It's not the person I am, and it's had a massive impact on my career. As an artist, I find it hard to be taken seriously because my credibility has been blown to bits."
Church, a pop and opera singer with a spectacular voice, was the latest prominent person to tell the committee how Britain's voracious and unscrupulous press has invaded their privacy and damaged their lives. She said she suspected her closest family members of leaking secrets when in fact the media were getting them from illegal phone hacking.
Prime Minister David Cameron set up the inquiry amid a still-unfolding scandal over illegal eavesdropping by the News of the World tabloid. Owner Rupert Murdoch closed down the newspaper in July after evidence emerged that it had illegally accessed the mobile phone voice mails of celebrities, politicians and even crime victims in its search for scoops.
More than a dozen News of the World journalists and editors have been arrested, and the scandal has also claimed the jobs of two top London police officers, Cameron's media adviser and several senior Murdoch executives.
The inquiry, led by Judge Brian Leveson, plans to issue a report next year and could recommend major changes to Britain's system of media self regulation.
Before Church testified, a man who had been arrested on murder charges and then cleared told the committee that tabloids had destroyed his reputation with false Page One stories.
Christopher Jefferies said the negative coverage of him was so widespread that some people still assume he is a "weird character" who should be avoided even though he was cleared of wrongdoing.
He was arrested last year by police investigating the murder of his tenant, Joanna Yeates. Another man has since been convicted of the crime.
Jefferies said he felt he could not go out in public because of the smears.
Last week, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller all testified about the devastating impact that unscrupulous British media have had on their lives, along with the parents of murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler and missing 3-year-old Madeleine McCann.