Michael Jackson's official spokeswoman is angrily denying a new Vanity Fair report, which claims the pop superstar hired an image expert to help him appear more sympathetic in court.

Raymone Bain insists MAUREEN ORTH's article is the latest in a string of pieces by the investigative journalist, which stretch the truth.

Orth's article contends that former US secret service agent GORDON NOVEL was called in to advise Jackson on what he would need to do to impress legal pundits and jurors during his child molestation trial.

Novel, who claims to have tapes of the Neverland Ranch interviews he had with Jackson and members of his entourage in March (05), alleges he urged Michael to "find a female lover" and "get rid of the weird persona."

But Bain insists such an interview never took place: "I don't know where Maureen gets her information. It's always a source here, a source there."

And she insists this is just the latest article, which attempts to discredit her boss.

She adds, "If you recall, about four years ago, maybe five, she (Orth) wrote that Michael Jackson paid $100,000 (GBP52,600) to bathe in a tub of blood, to put voodoo on people he wanted to kill. That was ridiculous.

"Michael Jackson doesn't even like the sight of blood, never less laying in a tub of it.

"It gets to the point that everybody is out to make money off of Michael Jackson - everybody needs 15 minutes of fame and time and time and time again there's always some ridiculous story and for so long we have not said anything.

"There has been a pattern that a number of these people can write and say and do whatever they want and, as a result of that, with Michael not having said anything over the years, they feel that they have the liberty to do so - and they don't.

"Michael Jackson is a target. He has always been a target and he probably always will (be). It's unfortunate that so many people have decided to make money off of him and they go about it in a wrong way, a very cruel way.

"Michael Jackson has done a really good job in rising above a lot of this stuff that has been going throughout this trial and previous to this trial."

10/06/2005 19:26