Pop icon Michael Jackson lashed out today at a "tawdry" documentary he helped make for British television and denied he would ever abuse children, as his lawyers filed complaints with British broadcasting authorities.
In the film -- a rare look at the pop singer's private life that was shot over eight months -- Jackson admitted sharing a bed with children at his Neverland ranch in California. It was broadcast on Monday in the United Kingdom and last night on ABC.
The revelations prompted a storm of controversy, including a call by a California lawyer for a probe into life at his estate.
"Today I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before, that someone who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair program," Jackson, 44, said in a statement released in London.
"Everyone who knows me will know the truth, which is that my children come first in my life, and that I would never harm any child."
His lawyers filed complaints with Britain's Broadcasting Standards and Independent Television commissions, arguing that the program was unfair and violated his right to privacy. The complaints said the filmmakers used footage of Jackson's children even though he forbade them to do so, and had unfairly asked him about a 1993 child abuse allegation without "prior warning in writing or otherwise."
He also complained that the filmmakers had interviewed a 12-year-old boy who slept in Jackson's bed, without asking permission from the boy's parents for the interview.
Jackson has been dogged by controversy since 1993, when he reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with a 14-year-old boy who had accused him of sexual molestation.
Granada Television, which produced the film "Living With Michael Jackson," stood by its journalist Martin Bashir but said perhaps it was "inevitable" Jackson would be upset. "It's not surprising that a film about him, which is so open and revealing, draws some hostile reaction and comment about him. It's regrettable that Michael should feel devastated as a result of that, but perhaps inevitable," it said in a statement.
Jackson accused Bashir of breaking an assurance not to feature his children and of ignoring pleas to cut footage. Granada said it respected his desire not to show the children's faces but that there was no agreement not to show them at all.