Michael Jackson’s British goddaughter has broken her life-long silence over the controversial singer to claim he is innocent of the sex abuse claims made against him.
Lucy Lester, 27, was close to the pop star through her father Mark Lester, the former child actor who became famous for playing the title role in Oliver! in 1968.
The single mother, of Gloucestershire, said she and her siblings thought of Jackson’s children as cousins and even spent a Christmas together.
Her father, 60, now an osteopath in Cheltenham, has recently defended Jackson in the press against claims of sex abuse made by Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40, in the documentary Leaving Neverland.
But Miss Lester said she is convinced he is innocent and never saw anything to suggest he was capable of child abuse.
Lucy Lester, right, has defended godfather Michael Jackson, second right, against allegations of sex abuse in recent documentary Leaving Neverland. Also pictured are Lucy’s mother Lisa, far left, and sister Harriet, second left. They are pictured with the star in London in March 2009 months before his death
She said: ‘One hundred percent I never saw anything to suggest anything like that.
‘I never had the slightest inkling, saw or heard anything that made me feel uncomfortable.
‘I do not believe he did it and there are other factors to consider such as monetary gain from the people who accused him.
‘Having to hear people say things about him when they don’t know him is probably the most difficult thing of all. I can speak from personal experience and all I can say is that I never thought there was anything untoward. Michael was a lovely family man.
‘I don’t get into arguments about it. There’s no point. But there is nothing that has made me feel like it could possibly be true. The person described in the newspapers who allegedly did these things was so far from the Michael I knew.
‘All I can say is that I racked up a lot of hours with him and I never ever saw anything to suggest anything like that.’
Miss Lester said Jackson was a good friend to her family, including siblings Harriet, 25, Olivia, 23, and their 19-year-old brother Felix.
She said Jackson tried to teach her to moonwalk and was helping to plan her 18th birthday when he died in 2009.
Miss Lester, left, is Jackson’s goddaughter and was close to him through her father Mark, right, a former child actor who starred in 1968’s Oliver!
Although he was always in the background, Miss Lester did not meet the star face to face until she was about 12.
She said: ‘Dad met Michael when he was 18, long before I was even born so for me [knowing him] it’s always been pretty normal.
‘It’s only now looking back that it sounds pretty surreal, as if you are describing someone else’s life not your own. But it was just normal at the time.’
Her sisters, who now live in Oxford and London, used to go to Jackson’s Neverland ranch in California but it never worked out with her school holidays and she said she had to listen to stories such as the time they were on a train and a giraffe put its head through the window.
The first time she personally met Michael Jackson face to face was when he flew her father and all four children out to the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas so he could cement the links between the two families by becoming their godfather and making Mr Lester godfather to his three children.
She said: ‘We flew over for the naming ceremony but the thing I remember most was that it was Hallowe’en, which is really big in America, and we went trick or treating with Michael and the kids.
‘I remember children walking past with their parents and saying “Look it’s Michael Jackson” and then somebody else would say “Don’t be ridiculous, it’s someone dressed up as him for Hallow’een”.
‘It was so funny because nobody believed it was him.’
After that the families met up every time Jackson came to England and the Lesters formed a strong bond with his children Prince, Paris and Blanket.
Then in 2005 Jackson rented a sultan’s palace in Bahrain and put the Lesters up in the nearby Ritz Hotel so they could all spend Christmas together.
She said: ‘I remember the car picking us up and taking us there. It was only about 10 minutes away but the drive to the house must have been about a mile long and there were all these rose gardens and water features. It was amazing.
‘When we went inside, it was massive. The ceilings must have been 50 foot tall and the Christmas tree reached the top.
‘It was huge. I’ve never seen a tree that big and on Christmas Eve a Toys ‘R Us truck full of presents pulled up. It was like a film and it seemed so magical at the time.’
Mr Lester, right, would take the family on trips to the US to see Jackson while they would also spent time with his family in London. Pictured are Jackson, centre, with Harriet, second left, and Olivia Lester, second right, and family friend David Tomeraasen, far left
Jackson hired two violinists to play over Christmas dinner and then the Lesters opened numerous presents from the star which included laptop computers, MP3 players, expensive perfume and Chanel make-up.
She added: ‘When we went back at the end of the holiday there was so much stuff that me and my dad had to go to the lobby to buy duffel bags to put it all in.
‘It was crazy. There was so much we could not take it all back and had to to have half the presents shipped back to Cheltenham.
‘I remember my dad looking at a big inflatable bouncy castle and saying “that’ll never fit into our back garden in Cheltenham”.’
During Jackson’s final few years he was a frequent visitor to Britain and every time he asked the Lesters to visit so the children would spend time with Prince, Paris and Blanket.
Most of the time he stayed at the Dorchester Hotel in London and the Lester children often had to get past screaming fans trying to get a glimpse of the singer.
She said Jackson once played a joke on her by asking her to open his curtains and then laughed when she jumped back after being confronted with an army of hysterical fans who thought it was the star making an appearance.
Miss Lester added she was never put off by his change in appearance over the years.
She added: ‘I think by that time all the work had been done so that’s all I had never known him as.
‘In real life it does not look as dramatic as the papers make it out to be. Maybe that’s because that’s what I’d always known him as.’
‘Obviously if we went out there would be security and hordes of people taking pictures but as soon as we were back inside it was just two normal families together.
‘My dad and Michael would be chatting and we would hang out with the kids. We would order pizza, chips and ice-cream on room service and sit around talking and watching TV and films.
Mr Lester, right, who now works as an osteopath in Cheltenham, has repeatedly denied claims Jackson abused children
‘We grew up together and spent so much time together we referred to each other as cousins.
‘There was one time when we were really, really bored and Michael cleared it his with security to take me, Prince and Paris to the cinema.
‘Nobody knew what the kids looked like because they usually wore masks when they went out, but this the one time Michael said they didn’t have to and we went to see Bolt in 3D.’
Miss Lester said word got around in Cheltenham that she knew the star and she would be asked by friends for autographs.
Then in 2007 Jackson visited the family while in the UK to negotiate a deal with Sony for the Beatles’ back catalogue.
She said the family were attending Prince’s birthday party when Mr Lester invited Jackson to visit and he took him up on the offer ‘there and then’.
Miss Lester said: ‘They rocked up in a security car and sneaked into the house. We shut the blinds but people started to gather outside almost straight away.
‘People knew who my dad was so when a car with blacked out security windows parked in the street they wanted to to know if it was him.
‘Dad asked what everybody wanted to eat and Michael said he’d like to try fish and chips.
‘Someone went to the chippie and we all sat around the table together eating fish chips and mushy peas. Michael said he loved it.’
Miss Lester said she is hurt when she hears people attacking Jackson or reads negative comments online, she rarely tackles them head on because experience shows it does no good.
The former child actor, pictured, 60, is also godfather to Jackson’s three children
She added she will remember the ‘lovely’ father who would do ordinary things like eat popcorn in front of a film or offer her a piece of Hubba Bubba chewing gum as they travelled in his car.
Miss Lester said: ‘He’s made out to be this big character but maybe that’s a stage persona and people are different backstage.
‘As soon as he saw us he would give us a big hug and just start talking about normal stuff like how we were getting along in school? He was very down to earth and he’d just talk about the family and everyday things.
‘It’s weird because the media make him out to be wacky and eccentric, but for me he was just a family friend. A friend of my dad’s.’
On March 5, 2009 Jackson, who by this time was dogged by financial problems and had not toured or given an interview for years, announced ‘This Is It’, a 10-concert residency at the O2 arena in London.
Miss Lester said he was so nervous about announcing his comeback that he asked her father to attend the much publicised launch of the concerts which sold out so fast that 40 more dates were added.
That April was the last time they saw each other and he gave his godchildren Mac computers and gift vouchers as late Christmas presents before flying back to America.
‘The last time I spoke to him was three days before he passed away,’ said Lucy. ‘He was in rehearsals in America and on the phone to my dad a lot.
‘I happened to be around my dad’s once and as usual he asked to be put on to me so he could say hi. He was asking how things were going and what I was up to.
‘I was telling him I wasn’t sure what to do for my 18th birthday and he said he would reserve front row seats for me and a couple of friends at one of the concerts and we could go backstage afterwards.
‘The plan was that he was going to rent somewhere half hour from the stadium that had a guest house in the grounds so that our family could stay there.’
Days later a friend messaged her to turn on TV and she saw the conflicting and confusing reports coming out of America saying Jackson had been rushed to hospital.
Michael Jackson with his two accusers when they were children: Wade Robson (left) and James Safechuck (right). Both images are undated
As her father tried to frantically find out the truth on the phone, she spent the rest of the night at her nearby home glued to the TV, flicking through the channels hoping to hear it was a big mistake.
She said: ‘I waited until 7am when I knew everybody would be up to go to my dad’s.
‘I had been up all night and was like a zombie. When I turned the corner into his street there were news vans and TV crews swarming all over my dad’s house.
‘I just wanted to get in and speak to my dad but they were asking me all sorts of questions. My brothers and sisters had only found out that morning and were in complete shock.’
Miss Lester struggled to accept that her godfather was dead and for a long time afterwards could not eat hoping to hear it was a mistake or hoax.
She said: ‘He passed away on 25 June and it was my 18th birthday on July 15. I went out with some friends and obviously a lot of the clubs were playing his music as a tribute.
‘One of his songs came on, I think it was You are Not Alone, and I had a complete and utter breakdown in the club.
‘I hadn’t cried until then but I went out in a ball of tears. I don’t know if it was because it had finally hit home and hearing music made me think how I would never see him again, but I had a meltdown.’
She added one of the hardest things to accept is losing touch with Prince, Paris and Blanket who were whisked away by the Jackson family shortly after the star’s death.
Wade Robson (left), Dan Reed (center) and James Safechuck (right). Robson and Safechuck made their explosive claims in Reed’s HBO film
After Jackson died Miss Lester said people tried to contact the family through social media pretending to be Paris so so they changed profiles and developed a series of questions only she would know. Sadly none of them turned out to be the real Paris.
Miss Lester sent a message to what she believes is Paris’s real Instagram page and although it’s not been opened, she lives in hope that Jackson’s daughter will remember the time they were close enough to swap friendship bracelets and watch films together.
She added: ‘Since then I’ve had a child, and it’s really sad that I couldn’t tell her about such a big thing in my life.
‘She was a massive family person and adored her brothers so I know she would have loved to meet Jake.
‘It would be lovely to catch up again like old friends but it’s not that easy. You can’t just message them on Facebook and ask if they want to meet for a coffee like you can with your other friends.
‘It’s understandable that the family want to shield them and obviously she has her own life in America now, but I hope that one day she will reach out to me and we can catch up.’
After Jackson’s death it emerged that Lucy’s father was one of a number of sperm donors Michael used to father his children with nurse Debbie Rowe.
It led to widespread speculation that Paris is actually Lucy’s sister. Mark has always said it is up to Paris to take a paternity test if she wants to find out who her father is.