Transport for London says it will remove bus adverts proclaiming Michael Jackson’s innocence in the wake of child sexual abuse allegations against the singer.
The adverts have appeared on double-decker buses across the capital after a £20,000 crowdfunding campaign backed by the pop star’s supporters.
They were produced in response to the Leaving Neverland documentary, which featured claims by two men who say they were sexually abused by Jackson as children.
The Survivors Trust, which supports victims of rape and child sexual abuse, told Sky News the adverts were “really inappropriate” and called for Transport for London (TfL) to take them down.
TfL initially rejected the criticism, saying the adverts were “compliant” with its advertising policy.
But on Wednesday, a TfL spokesman said: “We have reviewed our position and will be removing these advertisements.
“They have been rejected due to the public sensitivity and concern around their content.”
The adverts feature Jackson’s face with the word “innocent” over his mouth, along with the slogan: “Facts don’t lie. People do.”
After they appeared on London buses, the Survivors Trust criticised TfL’s “disappointing” decision to “prioritise advertising revenue over the option of remaining neutral on such an emotive topic”.
The trust said fewer than one in five victims of rape or assault by penetration reported the attacks to police, while a quarter of those victims remain silent because they do not think they will be believed.
“An advertising campaign such as this perpetuates this fear amongst survivors and is very misplaced,” it added.
A spokeswoman for the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he had not approved the advertising campaign.
The crowdfunding page, entitled the “Michael Jackson Innocent Campaign”, hit its £20,000 target within a month.
According to the page’s author, the campaign decided to post the adverts on London buses because “they are iconic and instantly recognisable across the world”.
The campaign is reportedly being led by former Big Brother UK contestant and Jackson fanatic Seany O’Kane.
In Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson and James Safechuck claim they were molested by Jackson when they were children – and described the alleged incidents in graphic detail.
The singer’s estate has dismissed the allegations and denounced HBO and Channel 4’s decision to air them, claiming the programme spreads falsehoods about a man who is not alive to defend himself.