When a group of Michael Jackson fans created the California Anti-Defamation Law petition in 2010, hoping to get a law passed that would make it illegal to slander the dead . . . it was for people like this.
Matt Fiddes, from Devon, is British martial arts and fitness trainer who claims to run a network of martial arts schools around the U.K. (though currently, all but one of his companies has dissolved). He is also something of a famewhore in his home county. Prior to making a business out of exploiting Michael Jackson's children . . . Matt was mostly known for allegedly forging documents in a lawsuit against Channel 4 (which he promptly dropped); for sending out his own press releases to gush about an alleged secret relationship with Z-list celeb Bianca Gascoigne (tweeted Bianca: "#TEAMSINGLE!"); to obsessively harassing and threatening Big Brother star Chanelle Hayes and her son.
Quite a piece of work, huh?
Fiddes was first introduced to Michael Jackson in June 2002 via the spoon-bending guru Uri Geller, who he had worked with on a fitness video and was an old friend of Jackson's. (Geller famously sold said "friend" to controversial journalist Martin Bashir for a reported $200,000k.)
Geller asked Fiddes to sub as one of Jackson's bodyguards for free, during an event at Exeter Football Club over the weekend -- a request he gladly accepted.
And that is where Jackson's known association with Fiddes ends. Despite his own assertion that he was "Michael Jackson's U.K. bodyguard," Jackson had no further contact with Fiddes on trips to England, Scotland, Ireland, or Wales.
Fiddes (a self-proclaimed millionaire martial artist) also told inquiring Jackson fans on Twitter that he'd "practically lived with Michael for 10 years" . . . a bizarre claim with nothing to back it up. There's no video footage and no photographs of Fiddes and Jackson together, beyond the few taken in 2002. (This is especially odd, considering there are many fansites solely dedicated to collecting and organizing every photo of Jackson from every day of his life.)
(Matt Fiddes, seen holding Michael Jackson's umbrella in 2002. During his speech, Jackson had to be reminded what Fiddes' name was.)
What's more -- no one from Jackson's life seems to know Fiddes. Not his makeup artist (she said Fiddes and Geller "creep me out"); not his former managers ("I have no idea who he is!" Frank Cascio said on Twitter); not his friends; nor his actual long-term bodyguards and security team.
Knowing all this, one might wonder why and how Fiddes is still relevant, given that he barely knew or interacted with Michael Jackson. However, it wasn't until years later that this unpaid weekend of umbrella-holding for the King of Pop turned into something much more lucrative. . . .
In 2008, members of the Jackson family (including Jackie, Tito, and their mother Katherine) were considering buying a holiday home in England; subsequently, an hour-long documentary was filmed about their U.K. visit. Never one to miss an opportunity, Matt Fiddes made himself available as a local guide to the Jacksons, on the basis of his previous tenuous association with Michael Jackson.
Family matriarch Katherine Jackson would later say in an official statement, "Fiddes tried to pretend he was a close friend to my son Michael, but when I spoke to Michael about him, he could not remember who he was."
Things quickly took a turn for the worse when the family had falling out with their self-appointed tour guide. . . .
(Tito Jackson and his sons, relaxing in Appledoore, a sleepy Devon village.)
Tito Jackson recalled: "Matt started to get in more and more shots, and didn't want this or that person to be involved because it would take away from his screen time.
"When I saw Matt trying to run me the way he wanted, I put a stop to it. That's when things started falling apart. Some people want to be seen in your company and want to piggyback on your 40 years of hard work. And when you figure that out, they get mad."
The Jacksons Are Coming documentary aired on Channel 4 shortly thereafter, showing Fiddes in an unfavorable light, using his association with the Jacksons to sell stories to tabloid newspapers. Enraged, Fiddes took a lawsuit out against Channel 4 in January 2010, alleging that they had misrepresented him.
When the Jacksons offered evidence against Fiddes on behalf of the documentary crew, he wrote Tito Jackson, threatening the family "would regret it" if they crossed him.
"We decided we were going to come and tell the truth about him, anyway," Katherine Jackson declared. "You have to stand up to people like this."
In June of that year, Fiddes dropped the lawsuit after it was alleged he had forged a document, leaving Channel 4 with a £1.7 million legal bill. Fiddes later admitted that he "publicly acknowledges that the programme was not 'faked' as he has previously claimed and has today withdrawn his allegations of malice."
Not one to mince words, the chief executive of the documentary's production company, Stephen Lambert, subsequently described Fiddes as "vainglorious" and "a fame-seeking fantasist."
A few months later, Fiddes made good on his threat to the Jacksons: He sold a story to News Of The World, a British tabloid, in which he claimed to be the biological father of Michael Jackson's third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (nicknamed "Blanket").
(To quote TMZ: "ehh...")
Fiddes bragged that he was offered £500,000 ($1,000,000) by the King of Pop for his precious "athletic" seed, but that he turned it down. He also suggested that, during a stay in London in April 2001, Jackson stole his sperm under the guise of testing it for Fiddes. As if such a tale wasn't laughable enough . . . it turns out that Jackson wasn't even in London in April 2001.
Fiddes sold many more Jackson-related stories to the Daily Star, News of the World, et al., over the years, hiding behind the fact that one cannot legally libel the dead. More recently, he claimed he would fly to Los Angeles to legally assert paternity and consequent legal guardianship of Michael Jackson's youngest son. (He initially claimed he was going to do this in January 2011, as well -- though he never followed through.)
"He won't go to L.A., he has no intention!" Fiddes ex-girlfriend Carly Galliford said via Twitter. "He loves the attention, not caring about the Jacksons." Galliford (who claims she was with Fiddes when he came up with the baby-daddy tale) said that Fiddes admitted to lying about being Blanket’s father to her face, years ago.
"He has told me himself it is a 'money-maker'! He was not even ashamed," Galliford continued. "He is not Blanket Jackson's dad. All lies!"
And now, in April 2012, Fiddes has reared his ugly head again. This time, after a barrage of Jackson fans complained about him online, Fiddes gave a scathing interview to the Sun, making wild claims about his supposed friend, Michael Jackson.
The claims are easy to debunk but too numerous to list, to be honest. However, we'll try to address the eight most controversial, below. . . .
The Recent Claims -- Debunked
1. FAKE NOSE
Fiddes claims Jackson's nose was held on by a piece of tape. However, Jackson's autopsy report proves it wasn't: His nose was attached to his face at the time of his death and there is no evidence it was ever unattached.
2. NAZI LOVER
Fiddes claims Jackson was an anti-Semite -- at least for a brief period before he could be "deprogrammed" -- stating that Jackson fell out with Uri Geller for two years over this. According to Fiddes: ". . . when we were driving to Uri’s house, [Michael] asked, ‘Matt, is Uri a Jew?’ When I told him he was, Michael flew into a rage and ranted, ‘Turn the car around now -- I’m not going to some motherf***ing Jew’s house!'"
In reality, Jackson and Geller fell out in February 2003 because Gellar had sold him on to controversial journalist Martin Bashir, pocketing a reported $200,000k for his efforts. Furthermore, Jackson already knew Geller was Jewish prior to their first introduction. Jackson was even best man at Uri Geller's Jewish wedding in 2001 -- a full year before Fiddes met the singer.
Geller also introduced Jackson to the Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, with whom he launched a charity in 2001. Shumley went on to make a series of recordings of his private conversations with Jackson, spanning a period of two years; throughout the hours of tape, they discussed the singer's interest and respect for Judaism.
"[My family] used to have [Michael] over for Shabbat dinners," Rabbi Boteach recalled. "At one point, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was visiting and I wanted Michael to meet him." Jackson’s entourage urged him not to meet the controversial Sharon for fear of offending some of his fans, but the stage icon ignored the advice and met him, Rabbi Boteach said.
"Any suggestions that Michael was not friendly to the Jewish community are inaccurate," Boteach maintained.
Michael Jackson also wrote/spoke fondly about his Jewish childhood tutor, Rose Fine, whom he referred to as his surrogate mother. Jackson credited Fine with teaching him about the Holocaust (Fine's relatives were victims) and inspiring him to be a passionate reader throughout his life.
Speaking of reading: In Jackson's personal library, he held a copy of the book, "The Rest Of Us," which documents how Jewish immigrants to America managed to overcome great difficulties. It was also reported that Michael had an interest in "Nazi" movies; these movies turned out to be "Hitler’s Children" and "Nazis: Of Pure Blood" -- which are both anti-Nazi movies (another was a movie about treasure hunters fighting against Nazi Zombies).
Michael Jackson also married a Jewish woman (Debbie Rowe), who gave birth to two of his children -- Prince and Paris Jackson -- making them half-Jewish.
It seems Fiddes based his story on the original tabloid tale regarding Nazi movie rentals . . . and like most of his efforts, he failed to look any deeper into it before repeating. Or perhaps this is the version of events that he and Uri Geller wish to use, in order to explain why Michael Jackson cut Geller out of his life in 2003, instead of admitting the true reasons.
Fiddes claims Jackson was "impotent" in his last few years because of years of prolonged drug use. However, according to the coroner, Michael Jackson’s body was "healthier than the average person of his age" and there was no evidence in his body of prolonged exposure to drugs. Jackson's autopsy report also confirmed that he had the normal genitalia of an adult male and was still actively producing sperm at the time of his death.
4. NEEDLE MARKS
Fiddes claims Jackson's body was "filled with needle marks from the anesthetic drip he was on that eventually killed him." However, according to the published autopsy report -- as well as the testimony of the chief L.A. medical examiner and an on-scene medic -- Jackson's body was not "filled with needle marks." The few marks documented on his body on June 25, 2009 (besides the one made by Conrad Murray) were made postmortem, during attempts to revive the singer.
5. VIVA LAS VEGAS
Fiddes claims he was in Las Vegas with Jackson from 2007-2008. Yet there are no photographs or video footage of the two together (Jackson was photographed/filmed every day of his stay in Vegas).
On Facebook, Jackson fans asked the singer's actual bodyguards from 2007-2009 (Mike Garcia, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard) whether they remembered Fiddes, or had ever worked with him.
"Worked with who?" they replied in bemusement.
6. THE IMAGINARY TOUR
Fiddes claims he saw Jackson "wandering around half-naked a lot of times on tour as we grew closer and he was in a horrific state by the end." Matt Fiddes has never been on tour with Michael Jackson. In fact, Jackson's last tour was 1997 -- Fiddes first met the singer briefly in 2002.
7. WHITNEY HOUSTON LOVE AFFAIR
Fiddes stated that Jackson met Whitney Houston in 1991, when they embarked on a two week love affair. According to Fiddes, Jackson later got upset after finding out that Houston had already slept with his brother Jermaine.
In reality, Jackson knew about Jermaine's affair with Houston as early as 1984 (he even teased his older brother about being in love with the singer). There are also many published photos/video footage of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston together at public events throughout 1987, 1988, and 1989 -- further proving the two legends met long before 1991.
The fact that Matt Fiddes is allowed to get away with this, exploiting a dead man and his child over and over again, is disgusting. . . .