Charlotte Church: ‘They put you through this grinder and it just keeps happening’

By Ian Dunt

Charlotte Church has offered a stark portrait of a life under the media gaze at the Leveson inquiry, saying it was like being put through a "grinder".

The singer and TV presenters described how paparazzi had tried to photograph up her skirt and down her tops when she emerged from cars and how a newspaper had published a story on her father's extramarital affair despite knowing her mother was in hospital following a suicide attempt.

"A lot of this happened to me when I was very young. They put you through this grinder and it just keeps happening," she said.

Ms Church said she felt "horrible" when a newspaper featured a countdown to her 16th birthday, with the innuendo being that she would then be past the age of consent.

She went on to describe how her first boyfriend sold a story about her when she was 17. This took place again when she was 19.

"When I first gave birth to my daughter I wanted to keep it secret for about a week," she told the inquiry.

"It was in the papers within two days. I remember saying to my mum 'it must be you, it must be one of our family'."

The family now believe it was due to phone-hacking.

"I had a big group of girlfriends, but the more stories came out the more people I cut out of my life," she added.

Ms Church was forced to take out personal bodyguards during visits to America following an interview in which she said New York foremen were demeaned by handing out an award for 'best soap opera' during a TV ceremony.

The comment was reported as a dismissal of the men, who had been working during September 11th, as not being proper celebrities.

It was reported in the Murdoch-owned New York Post as 'voice of an angel spews venom', prompting death threats and a barrage of negative publicity.

Ms Church offered an incisive criticism of the argument that newspapers must uncover the truth about the rich and powerful, saying editors of major tabloids satisfy both criteria.

She said: "If they were subject to this then surely their misdeeds are much more within the public interest, being very powerful men in media organisations, than me as a singer."

The inquiry continues.