Michael Jackson's defence lawyer Steve Cochran has quit - even though lead attorney TOM MESEREAU will continue at the helm of his legal team.

Cochran has left the superstar's side as he battles allegations of sexually molesting a 12-year-old boy, due to "confidential reasons".

Jackson writes on his official website, "I would like to thank Attorney Steve Cochran for all the hard work he has done on my behalf.

"Unfortunately, he has taken a temporary leave of absence, for his own confidential reasons, from my defence tea, but will continue to collaborate."

The last upheaval in Jackson's legal team occurred in April (04) when the BAD singer fired MARK GERAGOS and Ben Brafman to hire powerhouse Mesereau, who has represented Mike Tyson and actor Robert Blake.

Jackson was arrested in November 2003 and is currently awaiting trial in January (05) to face charges of committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion

17/10/2004 14:14