Michael Jackson’s close pal Mark Lester has appeared on a TV show in the U.K. to denounce the sexual abuse claims made in the Leaving Neverland documentary, and shockingly dismiss one of the singer’s alleged victims as “cancer boy.”
Lester made his name as a child star after appearing in the lead of the film version of Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver as an 8-year-old.
The Mirror reports that Lester was a guest on talk show Lorraine to defend the King of Pop over sexual abuse allegations when he made an insulting reference to Gavin Arvizo. In 2005, a then-15-year-old Arvizo testified against Jackson during an 18-month trial. The court case ended with the singer being found not guilty of all charges.
After confessing he felt sick to the stomach watching bombshell new documentary, Leaving Neverland, Lester remained adamant that it did not alter his opinion one bit on his late friend.
Going on the attack, Lester then controversially claimed his old friend was himself a victim of the Arvizo family. He described them as a “bunch of hooligans” who “took advantage” of Jackson and his kindness.
“I remember when the Arvizo children, a little cancer boy who Michael visited in hospital a lot and invited him to the ranch,” Lester explained.
“There was no time stamp on it. I think they were there for three months, then the Arvizo mother appears, cousins and friends. Then there were a dozen of these hooligans running around the place.”
Lester went on to accuse the Arvizo family of taking full advantage of Jackson and treating Neverland abominably. He accused them of breaking into Jackson’s wine cellar and helping themselves to bottle after bottle of wine and racing the star’s golf carts by rolling them down the ranch’s hills.
Turning his thoughts back to Leaving Neverland, Lester said he was outraged it was being aired in the first place, and described it as excessively long, repetitive, and “quite boring.”
He also said the Michael Jackson portrayed in the film was not the man he knew for over 30 years, and added, “This is not the man my children knew, this is not the guy that I knew they were talking about.”
“I feel sad that this has even come to light. I don’t really know what the object of the exercise is here. I can’t fathom what good or what this is trying to achieve.”
When queried if he ever felt any alarm bells ring with regard to Jackson’s behavior, Lester explained that he “absolutely” didn’t.
“I never saw or was party or even had the slightest notion that there was anything untoward with Michael. My children were for maybe seven or eight years with Michael’s children, playing together. I was godfather to his children, he was godfather to my children.”
In the wake of the interview, outraged viewers took to Twitter to slam Lester and accused him of trying to portray Jackson as a victim.