The preliminary hearing of child molestation charges against troubled superstar Michael Jackson may be already underway - the prosecution has convened a grand jury in secret.

According to a spokesperson for Santa Barbara, California District Attorney Tom Sneddon, a hearing is currently ongoing in the state but whether the case in question is Jackson's cannot be revealed.

Spokeswoman SUSAN TELLEM told reporters, "A grand jury has been convened. But I have no information about what case or cases it will hear, because those proceeding are secret by law."

Jackson's own attorney Ben Brafman would offered no comment.

However, it is thought that Sneddon is keen to avoid the media circus that will inevitably engulf the case, in order to give the THRILLER singer a fair trial.

Sneddon headed up the team who tried to bring Jackson to court over allegations made by teenager JORDY CHANDLER in 1993 - the case was eventually settled out of court.

11/03/2004 16:56