Former child acting star Mark Lester said in a British newspaper Sunday that he donated sperm to Michael Jackson and believes he could be the biological father of the late singer's daughter Paris.
Lester, who played Oliver Twist in the 1968 film musical ‘Oliver!’, told the News of the World: ‘I gave Michael my sperm so that he could have kids -- and I believe Paris is my daughter.’ He said he was willing to take a paternity test to establish whether or not he is 11-year-old Paris' father.
The 51-year-old Briton became friends with Jackson and is godfather to Paris, and Jackson's two other children, Prince Michael, 12, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II, known as Blanket.
‘It's a been a secret for so long,’ Lester told the weekly tabloid.
‘In 1996 Michael asked me if I would give him my sperm and I said yes. It was a gift to him, no money was paid, and it was something I was honoured to do. He wanted children so badly.’ Lester added: ‘I do feel a definite bonding with Paris and I think there's a definite possibility that she's part of me.
‘I want to have contact with her, Prince and Blanket regardless of whether any or all of them are mine. I think it's cruel that I've now been excluded from them.’ He said that since Jackson's mother Katherine had been granted custody of the children following the singer's death, all his phone calls and emails had gone unanswered.
Lester, who has four children himself, said there was a strong resemblance between his 15-year-old daughter Harriet and Paris.
He told the News of the World that Jackson first confided in him in 1996 that he was desperate to be a father. Both were then aged 37 and Lester already had three children. ‘He realised having kids was a natural thing but that he just couldn't do it,’ Lester said.
‘I mentioned the fact there are alternative ways of going about it.
‘I think he'd already tried using his own sperm but it hadn't worked for him, so I made an off-the-cuff comment saying, 'Try mine'.’ Jackson agreed and the donation was arranged through a clinic in Harley Street, London, in February 1996.
Eight months later Jackson announced he had married nurse Debbie Rowe and three months later the couple revealed the birth of their first child, Prince.Paris was born just over a year later, in April 1998.
Lester said he felt compelled to speak out because he feared being excluded from the lives of Jackson's children.
‘This isn't what Michael would have wanted,’ he said. I feel I have to come forward, as my only way of saying, 'Please don't shut me out!'.’ The paternity of Jackson's children is hot topic for debate among Jackson's fans.
Magician, another long-time friend of Jackson's, backed Lester's story.
‘As a close friend of Mark, I respect his own situation to reveal this information at this time,’ the 62-year-old told Sky News television.
‘I am not surprised, I knew it all along simply because Michael told me.’ Geller declined to specify exactly what he knew, but said he spoke to Lester on Saturday.
‘I am with him on this because of the information he told me,’ he added. ‘I can imagine the stress everyone is under, especially Mark, but I understand him and really feel for him.’