MICHAEL Jackson's family have condemned the controversial new documentary Leaving Neverland, which follows two men who accuse the late singer of sexually assaulting them as children.
The upcoming four-hour documentary premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival and is set to air in the spring on HBO in the US and Channel 4 in the UK.
It features Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that the Thriller star abused them over a period of several years at his sprawling Neverland Ranch in California during the 1990s.
Jackson, who died in 2009 aged 50 from a lethal dose of prescription drugs, was acquitted of molestation charges during an infamous child sex abuse trial in 2005.
The pop star's family released a fresh statement on Monday branding the new documentary "lies" ahead of its TV release.
"Michael always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family – that is the Jackson way," the statement said.
"But we can't just stand by while this public lynching goes on, and the vulture tweeters and others who never met Michael go after him.
"Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made."
The family pointed out that Jackson was acquitted in 2005 despite a thorough investigation which saw a surprise raid of his ranch, in a case involving another young man accusing him of abuse.
Mr Robson also testified at the trial, saying he had slept in Jackson's room many times but that he had never been molested by him, while Mr Safechuck made similar statements to investigators as a boy.
Both men filed lawsuits in 2013 claiming stress and trauma had forced them to face the truth and admit they were sexually abused by Jackson.
The suits have been thrown out on technical grounds but are under appeal.
The Jackson statement branded the two men "perjurers" for backtracking on their previous statements, saying the family was "furious" that media outlets had chosen "to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael."
Jackson’s estate had released an earlier condemnation of the documentary that slammed it as "yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson."
In response, director Dan Reed said they "obviously haven't seen" his film.
"It’s pretty much what you'd expect them to say. The statement contains nothing that is of concern and no substantial criticism of the film," he said.
"They obviously haven't seen it, and I'm not engaging with the substance of what they're saying."
But the Jacksons insist that truth and evidence are on their side.
"We are proud of what Michael Jackson stands for," they said.