Three French Michael Jackson fan clubs are suing the two men who accused Jackson of sexually abusing them in the documentary, Leaving Neverland. The fan clubs – The Michael Jackson Community, the MJ Street and On the Line – are suing James Safechuck and Wade Robson for defamation in Orleans, Northern France. This is possible because, unlike in the UK and the USA, the protection of defamation laws in France extends after a person’s death. The ‘King of Pop’ died in 2009, aged 50.

HBO’s Leaving Neverland was shown in France on the M6 channel. In the documentary Safechuck and Robson allege that Jackson abused them as boys in the 1990s. The fan clubs lawyer described the allegations as ‘a genuine lynching’. The fan clubs are seeking symbolic damages of €1 each. Judgment is expected in October. The proceedings have been welcomed by Jackson’s estate, who deny the allegations made in the documentary.

Whilst a lawsuit seeking to defend a dead person’s reputation would not be possible here, this case is note-worthy as it reminds producers to always obtain local legal advice in any country in which you propose to show a programme, as laws do differ.