Welsh singer Charlotte Church, who rose to global fame as a child opera sensation, said she was promised either favourable coverage from Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire or 100,000 pounds if she agreed to sing at the media tycoon's wedding.

Church was the latest high-profile figure to denounce the tabloid press, telling a public inquiry into press standards on Monday how she had suffered from newspaper intrusion which had even played a role in driving her mother to attempt suicide.

I remember being 13 and thinking why would on earth would anyone take a favour over 100,000 pounds, she said of the deal to perform at Murdoch's 1999 wedding, although the inquiry was told his News Corp company denied the claim.

Church, who shot to stardom as an angelic child with a golden voice after being discovered in a television talent show at 11, said she was advised by her management and members of her record company to accept the deal favourable coverage.

He was a very, very powerful man, I was in the early stages of my career and could absolutely do with a favour of this magnitude.

The public inquiry was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron in July amid a public outcry over widespread phone-hacking at the now closed News of the World tabloid, part of Murdoch's News Corp media empire.

Last week the inquiry heard from actor Hugh Grant and author JK Rowling who delivered damning indictments on the attitude of tabloid newspapers and the unsavoury methods employed to dig up exclusives.


Church, now 25, said she had suffered negative coverage from the age of 14, and believed her phone had been hacked when she was just 17 as tabloids fixated on her private life.

She said photographers had tried to take pictures up her skirt and that Murdoch's Sun newspaper had featured a countdown clock in the run-up to her 16th birthday when it would be legal for her to have sex.

She suspected hacking meant details about her life such as her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter had been disclosed in papers despite her attempts to keep them secret, leading her to cut off friends she thought had leaked the information.

She also spoke how her father's affair was revealed in the News of the World under the headline Church three in a bed cocaine shock which had had a massive impact on her mother's health.

Asked whether the story had played a part in her mother's attempted suicide shortly beforehand, Church said: At least in part. I can't think of any justification for printing a story like that.

She said the all the press coverage had seriously damaged her career, making it hard for people to take her seriously.

Earlier, retired school teacher Chris Jefferies said he had been shamelessly vilified after he became a suspect in a high-profile murder.

Jefferies said he was effectively left under house arrest by papers that conducted a witch-hunt against him after he was arrested as part of the inquiry into the murder of landscape gardener Joanna Yeates which gripped the country last Christmas.

They embarked on a frenzied campaign to blacken my character by publishing a series of very serious allegations about me which were completely untrue, he said, adding he had been advised to change his appearance in the aftermath.


Former British army intelligence officer Ian Hurst who served in Northern Ireland from 1980-1991, also told the inquiry his computer had been hacked on behalf of the News of the World.

He said very senior police officers had helped cover up the hacking, saying from 2007 police knew his emails had been hacked but he was not officially told of it until this year.

He read out a statement, made during the filming of a BBC current affairs programme about the computer hacking, which stated former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who later went on to become Cameron's communications chief, was big pals with a lot of powerful people including top police officers.

He said there was corruption in the police at the very highest level.

(Editing by Jon Hemming)