It seemed impossible that I had left my comfortable, busy, orderly life in Los Angeles less than one week before, when the only issues might be; coming up with a suitable Christmas gift for each family member, and who was going to feed the cat while I was out of town. Hard to believe that just six days ago each of us, Mother, Kell, Rhett and I were contentedly going about our lives and looking forward to spending Christmas together in Australia. It felt like an eternity with what had transpired in those six days. Our contentment had been shattered, the pain and loss would be with us forever. So much was out of our control, even worse some outside forces were dividing us just when we needed each other the most. Michael, the one person who had always brought us together, was no longer here to play that passive, reconciliatory role. I wondered how we would pull ourselves out of these depths.
We were all leaving the following day and wanted to do something appropriate with Michael's ashes and bring some peaceful resolution. Our last discussion about it had been three days before when Kell suggested that we scatter them up on the Sydney Harbour . Rhett and Mandy were flying back to Byron Bay, Mother and Ross were returning to the Gold Coast, my children and I joining them there before departing for California on 4 December. When would we all be together again? I could not believe that Colin Diamond had the power to put a hold on the ashes and thus prevent us from symbolically putting Michael to rest.
Early on Friday morning, with Mother and Ross standing by, I called Colin's brother Stephen at the Sheraton. He kept repeating that since I was a beneficiary he could not speak to me. I'm afraid I screamed into the phone that I was not speaking as a beneficiary, I did not know the rules as I had not been a beneficiary of any will before this and did not particularly care to discuss that aspect. I just wanted to know about the ashes. It was obvious that someone else was in the room as I could hear a man's voice in the background commenting on the conversation. After one of my questions, Stephen began to answer and this other man yelled, "You don't have to tell her that!" My mother was on the other line and heard it all. My frustration mounting, I asked him to explain why his brother had put a stop on releasing my brother's remains, and what right he had to make such a personal decision. He said that his brother was executor of the will, trustee and guardian of Tiger. When I repeated my question, he still gave me no specific answer. And nor would Stephen tell me where Colin was. He refused to help us in any way.
That night I was so exhausted: it felt as if all of my emotions had been drained and laid on the sidewalk for strangers to trample. I was to leave with Mother and Ross the following morning. I fell asleep fully dressed, but was roused by a knock at my door just before midnight . To my relief it was Rhett. "Anything you want to tell me Tina?" he hissed. An alarm went off in my weary head. I motioned him in and asked him to explain himself. He just kept asking the same thing over and over. "I'm asking, anything you want to tell me?" He sat across from me, his rage barely controlled. Then he began pounding my head with cushions and yelling. I told him that he should tell me what was bothering him, but he only continued, shouting louder and louder. What is he talking about? Was it the incident in the limousine? Rhett was reeling out of control and it was obvious that he was either on something or coming down from something. I was aware that Rhett was hurting and angered at the world. I shared his grief but it was useless to take it out on each other at this time we so desperately needed to be united as a family. I attempted to soothe him, but his rage was too, far, gone.
I can't remember everything that passed that night in my room. Many things were said in anger, At one stage, when he jumped up from the couch and bore down on me to say something particularly hurtful, I attempted to slap his face. He grabbed my arm and it turned into a full scale tussle. We ended up in my hallway and by the time he marched out slamming the door, I looked down to see my clothes ripped, and my room littered with flowers. Flowers? The same flowers, which had been left outside of the Ritz Carlton, out of respect and love for Michael. How ironic. How tragic.
I was seriously shaken and nursing an ache in my side. Bewildered and emotionally shattered, I was not sure what he had been told or by whom, but I had a pretty good idea it had to do with the incident in the limousine, and it was a different scene to the one I had witnessed. I couldn't imagine how, but from the line Rhett was taking, it seemed to me that he believed I was party to some wrongdoing against Kell. Even though it was past midnight, I called Kell at home. When he answered he said, “Never call me again as long as you live”. I put the receiver down and looked back at the horrible mess in my room, fearing that I would not be able to clear it all myself, I called Mother. While I waited for my mother, I tried to put some understanding to the ill feelings that were surrounding us. Why were Kell and Rhett so angry with Mother and me? What had been said and by whom? When Mother arrived we set about clearing my room, soaking up the water from the carpet and setting the flowers back into their buckets. Apart from anything else I feared that housekeeping would report that my room showed signs of a confrontation and leak the news to the tabloids as ‘Hutchence Sister Trashes Hotel Room' .
Lying in a bath the following morning I could practically see the changing colours of the bruises on my stomach where Rhett's foot had connected. I felt that I had lost two brothers in the same week. I felt angry with Rhett at the time, but later felt sorry for him, it was a terrible time for us all. We have reconciled since and I will always love Rhett very much. He was in a rage over losing his brother with whom he had not had a chance to truly reconcile. Though Rhett and I have reconciled he has never been able to discuss this incident with me. I do forgive him and I will always love him. I also know it was the drugs that pushed him over the edge. Rhett's true mature is a loving one.
We left for the Gold Coast two days after the funeral. I was feeling numb at this time, so drained of emotion and so confused as to what went wrong. I felt that everything had been taken away from me, my son, my involvement in his funeral arrangements, his body, and later, his ashes and most of all, our dignity. I found it hard to live with this, and resolved that from now on I was going to fight for justice and the truth.
From the minute we arrived at Mother's the phone was never quiet. We finally switched it over to answering machine. If we did happen to pick up, the answer to all journalists was a definite "No comment" . They were depositing letters in the mailbox, offering us a lot of money for an exclusive interview and an ‘inside scoop'. As angry as we were and as much as we had to get off our chests, we were not interested. Mother would not touch the phone unless she was dialing out. One of those she did call was Rodney Claxton. She requested a copy of the statutory declaration signed by Colin Diamond and relating to Michael's ashes. He promised to fax it through as soon as he could obtain a copy from the crematorium. Four days after the funeral he faxed through a copy of the document. We read it over and over. It had been filled out in Colin's handwriting - Mother recognized it from other papers at her house. We were alarmed to read the following questions and answers:
Q. Have all near relatives of the deceased been informed of the proposed cremation?
A. YES –( At this stage we, Mother, Rhett and I) had not.
Q. Has any near relative of the deceased expressed any objections to the cremation?
A. NO -( We Mother, Rhett and I) had never been consulted.
Q. Did the deceased leave any written directions as to mode of disposal of the remains of the deceased?
Q. If so, what direction?
Michaels' address had been given as 13-17 La Spezia Court, Isle of Capri, QLD. 4217. Mother was bothered by the signature on the very bottom of the page, under that of the Justice of the Peace or notary. She said it looked familiar and realized it was Stephen Diamond's. She and Ross had used Stephen two years before when they had sold their former home and their own solicitor had been unavailable. Stephen had also drawn up new wills for them. They had no reason not to trust him, but they had not used him since. Mother called Rodney Claxton again and asked him what he had seen in writing to ascertain that Michael had wanted to be cremated. He answered that he was told by Colin Diamond that the request was in the will, though he had not seen the will himself. We later received another document from him which stated that he was to collect Michael's ashes and make sure that they were released to no-one but Colin.
We were outraged. How was it possible for someone other than Michael's next of kin to take 'possession' of his body? I began calling the Diamonds' office on the Gold Coast as we were very suspicious and we wanted to see that will. A woman representing them informed me that Colin was in Hong Kong and his brother Stephen was on his way back to the Gold Coast. She said that Stephen had told her to give me the phone contact of the co-executor whose office was in Hong Kong, Michael's accountant, Andrew Paul. She informed me that this was where the original will was kept and that everything would be handled through Mr Paul's office. Stephen would be the Australian liaison. Having no confidence in Stephen, I began juggling time zones and tried Mr Paul's office for two days before he called back. The conversation only alarmed me more, as he told me that he did not have a copy of Michael's latest will and assumed it was, at Stephen Diamond's office. Also, he was amazed to hear that he was the co-executor, and even more surprised to hear that Colin Diamond was in Hong Kong. He suggested that Colin could be in New Zealand, but insisted that he did not have a phone contact for him.
We were more concerned than ever before. A trusted friend advised us to consult an estate lawyer. At the rime we did not understand why we needed such advice. Frankly, the only thing that concerned us was the issue of his ashes. We simply wanted them released so that we could end this ordeal. But we were becoming increasingly suspicious that the request for cremation was not in Michael's will. It had not been in his previous will. We were angry with ourselves for taking Kell's word for it.
Spite and jealousy are evil emotions to harbour especially when they last a lifetime. Strangely enough, Kell and I had been able to maintain a reasonable relationship over the past few years. He and Sue had driven to the Gold Coast to spend Christmas at my house with the rest of the family, we had met up in the South of France and attended many functions together with Michael in Sydney. Our relationship had been a series of harmonious phone calls and meetings in the last ten years. How else could we have shared family vacations and celebrations?
Perhaps it seemed odd that I needed to get this sorted out but somehow, even in my numbed state, I was aware of forces that had somehow gathered me, and which were working away behind my back. Despite having no reason to believe there would be no problems with his estate, my advice was to take the advice of my friend and ring the lawyer. I still hoped we might be able to ceremonially scatter Michaels' ashes on Sydney harbour when Tina returned in three weeks time for Christmas, even though not all the children would be present. There was no discussion other of what the will contained as at this stage none of us had seen it. Next day we received a faxed will from Andrew Paul's Hong Kong office, and within the hour, another from the Diamond's Gold Coast office. This was allegedly the will Michael had made while hiding out on the Gold Coast in 1996, leaving half million U.S. dollars to Greenpeace and Amnesty International and 50% of the remainder to Tiger Lily, the rest to be divided between Kell, Rhett, Tina, Paula and myself. The most important thing to us was that justice was done and the right provision made for Tiger. As we searched the two pages for the request for cremation our fears were confirmed. It was not there, positively no mention of cremation.
When we realized that the will did not contain directions for cremation, we wondered about what it did provide for. Our anxiety mounted. Tiger's future financial security was at stake – we wanted reassurance that the executors would take care of her and preserve her inheritance.
To be perfectly honest, we were beginning to fear something sinister had happened to Michael. After all, why would Colin Diamond insist on having Michaels' body cremated and why was he not communicating with us? In these early days he truly brought suspicion upon himself.
In the ensuing months Tina and I were savaged in the press and also by people we had believed to be friends, all because we had retained a lawyer. It never occurred to us that people would view this as an attempt to get money out of the estate. Our concern was and always has been, that justice was done. Michael had been a public figure but surely his family had a responsibility to ensure that his wishes were respected.
Certainly the people who worked for Michael when he was alive, the lawyers, financial advisors, and managers had their duties as far as his business affairs were concerned, but as far as his remains went, we felt that they were treating him like a piece of property. We felt a decision had been made that robbed us of lovingly laying Michael to rest in dignified peace.
Kell denied knowing anything. He stuck by his original story that it was Colin Diamond who assured him that the request was in Michael's will. I knew that Kell had told some tall tales in the past about his travels and such but for some reason I was unwilling to believe he would deceive us on something so serious as this. It was a shock to read some eighteen months later in Vince Lovegrove's account of Michael's life that Kell said he decided to split the ashes three ways, after a call from Diamond who reported that Paula and Mother were arguing over them. Mind you, when Diamond and Kell had this discussion, Paula had only been in Sydney for 24 hours, and Diamond even less. When did all these harassing phone calls take place? Mother has her bill from the Sir Stamford for her room as well as mine, and there is only one call to the Quay West and this was the call I made from my mother's room the day after Michael's funeral. I asked Kell about this recently and he told me that he did have such a conversation with Diamond. It was only much later that he wondered if he had been misinformed.. He said that Diamond was running the show for those couple of days he was in Sydney and yes, he indeed gave the directions for three urns at Diamond's suggestion. One for Paula, one for Mother, and one for himself.
We had all been stunned by Kell's announcement that day about Michael wanting to be cremated. I was certain that Kell knew perfectly well that Mother had no contact with Paula that week; we didn't even know her hotel pseudonym until the day after the funeral. Why was Kell so ready to believe Paula and Diamond without even asking Mother? It would not occur to any of us that a girlfriend would even want to take Michael's ashes back to a city he had at first loved then later came to loathe. But further, why did Kell not assume that his ex-wife, the mother of his child, the child they had both just lost, might have something to say about her son's resting place? It was a decision Mother and Kell should have made together. I don't believe Colin Diamond should have had any say in it and nor should have Paula.
I called Rodney Claxton. I asked him how come Colin Diamond had the right to decide what would happen to Michael's ashes, and he told me that it was a very unusual situation. He had also never heard of a girlfriend requesting the ashes. He said when a person is not married, and does not have a child who can make these decisions, the ashes would automatically go to the parents, in most cases the mother. When I asked him if he had any proof that the request was in the will and he said Colin Diamond assured him it was. And he said he believed him because Kell had also said that was true. Why wouldn't he believe the father? Besides, the document was signed by Stephen Diamond as a Justice of the Peace.
A letter from Stephen Diamond arrived at Joanne Kelly's office on December 3, 1997 for Mother and me, after she had requested a meeting between all interested parties. It began:
‘Colin Diamond has personally disbursed over $60,000 from his own personal funds to attend to the funeral and associated expenses. It seems that your client Patricia Glassop would be the only family member who has any real prospects of paying for the funeral. Could you kindly take instructions from Mrs Glassop as to whether she would reimburse Mr Colin Diamond for the cost of funeral and associated expenses'.
This letter certainly seemed to me to be in extremely poor taste. My mother was still in shock over losing her son just eleven days before. This was an outrageous letter to send. When asked for an accounting of the bills, she was not offered any. The account for the funeral parlour, normally the responsibility of the estate and which the executors normally pay, had still not been taken care of eighteen months after Michael's death. The letter continued:
‘Colin had every right to sign the statutory declaration, as he had to put a stop to Paula Yates returning to the United Kingdom with (the ashes).'
This did not even address the fact that Michael had not asked to be cremated or that the decision was up to both parents, not some financial advisor who had not even attended his client's funeral . We were also informed that Colin was far too busy to speak with us, due to the complexity and size of Michael's estate. This last remark regarding the estate would change several times over the next six months, depending on what the executors were being asked. We would be intermittently told that Michael had nothing left or hear more about the 'enormity of the estate'. The executors were too busy to meet us and barely had the time to correspond with us.
Soon after arriving back home on the Gold Coast I called Linda at the villa. They had seen the report of Michael's death on the television and had then been contacted by Paul Craig, Michael's former manager, to say that someone would be in touch to take care of things at the villa. Over the years we had viewed Linda and Nestor as more than employees and I knew that they would be upset by Michael's death. Linda sobbed and told me that Norman Leighton, whose offices in Nice and Monaco were where Michael's company Leagueworks was lodged had driven up with some colleagues and had taken an inventory at the main house. There was a search for papers and certain possessions removed, others locked or stored away, others disposed of. Six guitars, several other boxes of musical equipment, and valuable artwork were then loaded onto a van and taken away. When they thought they had collected everything of value, they had a bonfire in the garden.
At the time all I thought about was, doesn't his family have a say in any of this? Surely there were personal letters and notebooks containing his writings- far more precious to us than documents pertaining to his business affairs.
Linda also told me that she had already received a fax from Kell, which in essence said that she was to send a crate of Rhett's belongings on to Sydney and then she was to await future instructions from either himself or Colin Diamond only. She assured me that she had safely stored articles belonging to Ross and me in her home.
The music room contained shelves of videos, music awards, tapes and compact discs. Linda was instructed that it was to remain locked. Her orders were to burn any of Michael's personal papers, which she might have in her own house. Documents pertaining to his financial transactions and faxes linking him to properties were to be destroyed. When she told me this, something did not feel right. Why would his villa be closed down so soon after his death, and why was it necessary to destroy his personal papers? Everything was moving too fast.
Given that we felt we had grounds for concern, I asked Linda to come up with a hiding place for what we assumed was important paperwork, preferably off the grounds of the villa. Linda suggested the home of Father Guerrero, the priest who had blessed Tina's marriage. That night Nestor drove with Linda into Nice where she deposited the papers in Father Guerrero's safe. Linda mailed the originals of these papers to me some months later. Along with these and some other papers Michael had left at my house, these became the most important documents we had when trying to unravel Michael's affairs.
Amidst many reservations as to what was now going on I left for Los Angeles. I was due to return in less than three weeks for what would surely be the saddest of Christmases. Jonnie had left a message inviting me to a celebration of Michael's life. His friend Nick Conroy from his very early days with the band was hosting a luncheon at the Cafe d' Artiste, a little restaurant in Hollywood. Some of those present were Pamela Des Barres, Nick Egan, Stewart Copeland, and old friends from Australia like Lian Lunson, Sherine Abeyratne, and Karen Ansel. Even the Los Angeles businessman who had brokered the deal for Michael's Aston Martin came to show his respects and remember Michael.
While talking with some of Michael's closest friends that day I learned that he had spoken to many people beside myself of his discontent on the home front. It was clear that he had been extremely worried about his finances and yet I could not imagine why. Then things lightened a little: I was sitting with Nick and Jonnie when Blair arrived with her roommate who had also been to INXS' last Los Angeles concert at the Greek Theatre in July, 1997. I went over to her and without a word we hugged. We talked for a while and then I brought her over to meet Jonnie, who introduced us to a photographer whom she used to date, but who was now dating Kylie Minogue. What a complicated world we live in.
Shortly before Christmas Blair wrote a beautiful letter to my mother which, included the following;
'I don't know what words I could say to let you know how sorry, sad, and devastated I was for you, the family, the band, Tiger, and selfishly -for myself. This feeling inside me continues to grow and I am at a point now that I wish I could enable myself to just plain forget everything - but that is far from possible and won't make it go away. I spent time with Tina before I left LA., as I'm sure she told you. It felt good to be close to her - I suppose it's the extension of souls coming together. I miss Michael. Forgive me for sounding selfish - but I do. They say human beings are made up of energy and that energy never dies. However, a big part of my heart has died. I only wish I could have sent him some love before God called him home.
We go through life not understanding why we are here, how we got here, what we're supposed to do and why we leave. Michael had a very full life. He filled so many with joy through his talent - yet another extension of his soul, giving to others. I remember at the show in St Louis, 3 disabled people were in the front seat next to me, Michael spent so much of his show on that side(of the stage)that they figured I knew him. They asked if there was a way they could get to meet him -I made no promises - however, when we met backstage I asked him and without hesitation, he told me to grab them. The smiles on their faces showed me the proof that even the smallest act of caring can make a difference in a person's smile. Michael's heart was full of gold and the only thing he knew was to give it away.'
I am sorry I never took the time to say good-bye to you, I am sorry that Michael and I were not honest and I'm sorry for being a "secret". I am not that type of person -but he needed to be cared about and he wanted someone to listen to him, so I did. When I felt things were ......growing - I tried to walk away-but he wouldn't let me. Your son was nothing less than amazing and I hope you accept my prayers, my sorrow, and all my love.'
On December 8th I faxed Andrew Paul in Hong Kong, noting that despite leaving many messages, I had been so far unable to reach Colin or Stephen Diamond. I requested use of the villa for February, March and April of 1998. I felt that this notice would give them plenty of time to re-open the house. I reminded him that I had been married at the house the previous year and it was special to my whole family. I faxed this through twice and finally received a reply three days later. It was not satisfactory. He suggested that he found it hard to believe that I could not reach the Diamonds. He further told me that as a beneficiary I could not contact him directly, I needed to go through legal counsel. I later found out that this was not true. Executors' duties include those of taking care of the estate and serving the beneficiaries. He went on to say that although he understood my sentimental attachment to the villa it would have to be sold, due to the cost of upkeep. I shot a fax back saying that the family would like first right of refusal.
I had sent a similar fax to Colin Diamond. My reply from his brother Stephen was most distressing. It stated that Michael had never in his lifetime owned a villa in the South of France. On the same day that I received the fax refusing my stay at the villa, Linda sent Mother a copy of a fax which she had received from Norman Leighton on December 5th 1997 which had informed her that Paula and Belinda and their children would be using the villa over Christmas and asked her to stock the pantry for their arrival. He said that the trustees for the villa had okayed it. Also he asked Linda if she could list which items in the villa belonged to Paula.
Over the following three months we would be told that Michael's London home was not his, nor did he own a Peugeot, an Aston Martin, a Mercedes Jeep, a Cherokee Jeep, a Bentley, a Ducatti motorcycle or various other vehicles I knew to be his. The home on the Isle of Capri - even though Colin Diamond had given this as his domicile at the time of his death - the bowling alley and the block of land in downtown Southport were also evidently figments of our imagination. The executors maintained that not even Michael's ongoing income from publishing and performing rights to his music, not even his solo album which Martha Troup and Paul Craig verified he had personally bankrolled, belonged to him. I kept going back to that day over lunch when he assured us that no matter what transpired, neither he nor Andrew would ever sign away their publishing income. Above all, how, in this situation, how could there be any provision for his daughter?
While dining in LA with Jonnie and Michael's friend Nick Seymour, formerly of Crowded House, Nick told me that he had recently run into Nick Cave. Nick complained that it had cost him a huge amount of money for his attorney to ensure that he was not on the Hutchence funeral footage. I couldn't imagine why, since we thought we had taken care of this with one phone call, I do not know who he made the cheque out to, but as far as we know it was an unnecessary expense. At home after dinner there was an urgent message from Mother asking me to call about a fax she was sending. When I read it I felt physically ill, it was so humiliating. The News of The World in London had re-printed a photograph of Mother and Michael, taken in December 1993 when Helena and her parents were visiting the Gold Coast. The headline read ‘Hutch Told Mum of Bondage Ordeal'. It was a detailed and completely fabricated story which claimed an unnamed ‘friend of the family' had revealed that Michael had told Mother of a bondage session that he had endured several months before his death. Mother remembered Michael saying "Look Mum, you just don't know what they will do, they sometimes alter the picture to create a story, or make up a story to go with the picture." This story was repeated in other magazines.
Mother was so traumatised by this despicable story that she had a major health set back. To add insult to injury, Kell accused her of selling the story. Ironically it was Kell who had retained an entertainment lawyer to handle and oversee lucrative offers for interviews with him. Mother then called again, sounding frailer and sadder than ever before. Joanne had finally heard from Stephen Diamond, having sent him eight questions about Michael's ashes. Only one had not been dodged. My mother had requested to know when they would be released and she was now informed that she could 'collect her third' as soon as she wanted. Her third! What happened to her son? This had to be the sickest thing I have ever heard. I wished for a loaded gun. The first such wish of many: The second such wish followed shortly thereafter when Joanne contacted Rodney Claxton at the funeral parlour, he apologetically told her that Stephen Diamond had mislead us as he had still not forwarded an authority to release the ashes.
Ken and I had separated. It had become clear that I had entered the marriage without taking enough time to really get to know him and now that there was so much stress and sadness I found that I was looking for comfort and reassurance that I felt he was not able to offer. The sadness of the break-up was compounded by the memory of the blessing of the marriage in Michael's French garden only the summer of the year before. However we had booked our flights for the Gold Coast for Christmas so we decided to go together. You know what people say when things are so miserable in these situations you may as well be together? Don't you believe it. The trip together was a real mistake. We thought we could at least remain amicable but he began to get on my nerves. For instance, during our stopover in Sydney I visited the restroom. When I returned he had struck up a conversation with an Australian couple about my family. As I approached them I noticed looks of commiseration from his two new friends. I was furious and told him so. From then on every time I looked up, these people were staring at me. Let's just say that there were other incidents which I don't care to report here and Ken flew back to L.A. much sooner than planned.
On Christmas Eve Stephen Diamond chose to send a particularly callous fax to our attorney. It read:
RE: THE ESTATE OF THE LATE MICHAEL KELLAND HUTCHENCE.
1.Your client has requested that she sight the original Will herein and that she be present if the Will is read. The executors have not advised a decision at this conjuncture, where they will proceed to probate the Will. However, they advised a decision will be made early in the New Year.
2.We now enclose an authority addressed to the Funeral Directors regarding the ashes and would be pleased if you could arrange for your clients to collect the relevant urn. Please note that we have couriered the original authority to your office.
3.Your client's concern in respect of Tiger is noted and we would suggest your clients contact Ms Paula Yates direct.
4.The executors' advise to the best of their knowledge and belief Michael Hutchence did not purchase and, more particularly at the time of his death, did not own "A villa in the South of France". Should you have any information to the contrary, we would seek your urgent advises thereto. (signed) Stephen Diamond
As if facing our first Christmas without Michael wasn't difficult enough. Colin Diamond and company had wrenched Michael away from us even in death. It was as if he had never existed. Once again Joanne contacted Rodney Claxton who told her that he had still not received any instructions from Colin Diamond. Mother was on the verge of collapse. Over in Bali, Kell, Sue, Rhett and Mandy were celebrating Christmas on the proceeds of various interviews that their entertainment attorney had arranged. Rhett called on Christmas day, and after talking to Mother he asked to speak with me. I took the phone; he spoke, I listened. I could not bring myself to speak to him or to return his seasonal wishes. Without a word, I handed the phone back to Mother.
Upon my return to Los Angeles, I took a chance and called London to speak with Michael's former personal manager, Paul Craig. I asked him if I could post late Christmas gifts for Tiger and the Geldof girls via him. He did not have an address but that he would probably be able to get it to them through friends. I was truly frustrated at the thought that business associates of Michael's, the very people who in the past had tracked down phone numbers all over the globe, people who had so much access to both he and Paula before November 22, suddenly did not know where to find Paula and Tiger Lily. What did they think I was going to do, show up on her doorstep?
Paul congratulated my family on the decision we had made to have the funeral televised. He said he had spoken to many people who had not been able to get to Sydney to show their respects and that they had felt closer watching it in their homes and added that although it was late he hoped that we would accept his condolences. I told him that I was surprised that he had not come to Sydney for the service. He replied that he was two hours away from departing London when he received a call from someone in Sydney who advised him not to go. He vacillated and since this person had been insistent that it was the band's idea, he cancelled his flight. I do not know who it was that made the call and Paul would not divulge the identity. At a moment like that I could see why Michael despised the Chinese whispers and peripheral garbage of the music business.
Due to the international dateline, January 21 st in the United States, would have been Michael's thirty-eighth birthday in Australia. Colin Diamond had finally sent a letter allowing release of his ashes two days before this and two months after his funeral. Mother flew to Sydney to collect them. I knew she would be very sad. I was due to catch a flight home from Washington where I had been lecturing. As hospitable as everyone had been it was a very difficult time emotionally. I found it increasingly hard to be around people. I called my office in Los Angeles and asked them to arrange for Mother to receive an arrangement of licianthus from her favourite florist. I called her the moment I arrived home. She thanked me for the flowers and told me that Michele and Ross had also sent beautiful, blue flowers. I wasn't at all surprised that Michele had thought of Mother on Michael's birthday. I chose that day to give my 'Michael' button to a friend, a jewellery designer, to be made up into a ring.
Next day I began to see a doctor about my obvious depression. Over the phone she asked me some questions before we began to decide just how urgent it was, and how much therapy I might require. She asked me if there had been anything out of the ordinary happening lately. I said my brother had committed suicide. She said that this would be a major reason for stress and depression. Then she asked some simple questions about my lifestyle. The last question was "Single, married...?" I replied that it had almost slipped my mind that I was going through a divorce. There was a moment of silence and then, in a very controlled voice she said, "How fast can you be here?" My job was becoming more demanding and I wasn't sure how long I could go on. After speaking with the psychiatrist I decided to go on 'leave of absence'. I really thought that I just needed a rest away from people and I resisted medication for the first three weeks. I relented when my analyst finally convinced me that it was the only way I was going to get through these tear- filled days. She prescribed an antidepressant. It made me nauseous so I only persisted with it for two months. It did help, but I could not stop wondering how Michael could have been on these drugs for two years. They do alter your perception of the world.
Early in February, while Mother and Ross were visiting Los Angeles, I received a call from a member of the Australian press, saying that, Kell had just sold another interview, a five page one at that, which was due to hit the news stands any day. He had been in the papers every week since Michael's death and had sold innumerable interviews to magazines. I asked her to read it out to me. It was mostly a rehash of anything else that has been written along with some of Kell's own thoughts. He had also stated that he and Mother had divorced when Michael was twelve years old and that he had obtained custody of the boys. He did state that Michael had denied that he would be marrying Paula, however, he went on about Michael's devotion to her. This and various other statements made in the interview would only perpetuate more untruths. For instance he completely dismissed the fact that Michael was battling depression when he died and chose instead to report that he died from a combination of "drugs and booze" - his words, not mine. Perhaps Kell thinks it's somehow more manly to die that way than through depression… Anyway, the coronor's report had not even surfaced yet.
The journalist reading this to me was the one who had broken the news of Michael's death to Mother. She asked me if I wished to make a statement. I had to think about this, as so far both Mother and I had remained quiet. But this latest was ridiculous and I agreed to say something in redress. I sat around the dinner table with my Mother and Ross and a friend who wrote as I dictated a statement which read,
'Truthfully, it saddens me to hear these fabricated stories regarding my brother's personal life. Especially coming from family members. It is painful and embarrassing. In this last assault, I will agree on one thing, and that is, Michael had no intention of marrying Ms. Yates. The only woman I have ever heard him say he would wed, is Michele Bennett. It was not common knowledge, however, people in Michael's inner circle knew that he had been trying to get out of his relationship with Paula Yates, with whom he was very unhappy.' - Tina Hutchence.
Honestly, this is all I had intended, a statement which I assumed would be placed out there like a press release. Within four hours it had become a full, blown story, photographs and all. I was faxed some questions which seemed reasonable at the time and I answered them. I was asked some other questions which I declined to answer. I thought that the statement might show up on page twenty of an Australian magazine. Not being privy to the ways of the press, I had no idea the commotion this little story would raise. What's more an abbreviation of the coroners' report was released the following day and my phone began to ring ceaselessly so I pulled it out of the wall. I was informed that Australia's Channel Seven had a crew on standby in Los Angeles should I choose to make a statement. I chose not.
Mother, Ross, and I dined with Erin and Joshua and his parents, Nancy and Michael. We arrived home feeling relaxed for the first time in weeks. It had been a laughter- filled evening. Both Nancy and Michael are professors of psychology and they had some really amusing stories. They even encouraged Mother and me to join in with some funny stories from our days together on the set. I delighted in watching her laugh and not only did she join in the conversation, at times she was the centre of attention delivering riveting tales of our years in Hong Kong. As I watched her she became younger as some of the pain she wore on her face was erased for a few hours. I thought back to some of the happy times our family had shared around a dinner table when it was a fight to get a word in, as each of us would be so animated.
When we returned home a little before midnight, I found a fax from Kell. It had been less than a day since I had done the interview, four days before it was due to reach the news stands. But there had been a leak at the magazine, and Kell had obviously been tipped off with a very sketchy outline of what I had said in the interview. I say 'sketchy' because he was obviously guessing at what I had really said and as usual he jumped to conclusions. In this – his reply to my statement - he reprimanded me for exposing what he termed - 'that poor little girl in Los Angeles', referring I guess to Blair. Although from what I understood he had no knowledge of her, but concluded others had told him about her existence. But I had certainly not mentioned anyone in Los Angeles. Although he had said some terrible things to both Mother and me in the past, this was the most hurtful. There were two pages of vile, unprintable, accusations. He said that I was the destructive element of the Hutchence family and a disgrace to the name. I could not understand where this was coming from, as I had not even mentioned him in the interview. I had just wanted to make it clear that Michael had loved his child but had been nowhere near to marriage to Paula. So far she had held herself up at the grieving widow. I suppose Kell felt he was being blindsided and wanted to lash out on the defensive in case I had said anything hostile about him but I felt he was attacking the wrong person. I realized that he was in a bitter state, one from which he would probably never recover. It is still hard to read something like, this from the person you have called 'Dad' for thirty-nine years.
Sleep was fitful that night. I was jarred awake by a call at 2.40am from a cheery voiced Belinda Brewin. She spoke to me as if we had actually met. She said we had a problem. I thought she meant something was wrong with Tiger. No. The problem was that we needed to do some 'damage control' because Paula was very upset about reports in the press that I had said Michael was marrying someone else. Here we go again, my words taken out of context. I told her that I had not said that and that that was all I could say to her in the middle of the night. She said “Oh God, I'm sorry I will call you back in the morning”. That was the last civilized thing she has said to me. Although I was very drowsy I wondered why Paula wasn't calling herself.
Belinda did not call in the morning. I dropped into my office and left my answering machine on. When I arrived home there was a message from a very agitated Paula. So here we were at last, ten weeks after Michaels' death. Paula had still never once called my Mother to relay news of her grandchild. We had called everybody we could think of to obtain a contact number for her but to no avail. It took a magazine story to propel Paula into finally calling me.
Her tone was threatening. She said that it would be on my head after tonight if I did not do exactly as she wished. Her exact words were, "Tina, I have fifty journos outside of my house (at that point it was obvious that she held the phone up to an open window as I could hear voices calling her name in the background) . You have not attempted to get a hold of me and Tiger, I suggest you ring Belinda. It's literally a circus out here because of what you said out there. We have to do damage control. It's your responsibility from tonight on”. Click. Again, she neglected to leave a phone number. I was glad we had a paper trail of the many times we had attempted in vain to locate them. The faxes stretched from attorneys and accountants to Martha and even Paula's own attorney.
I had no intention of killing the story. I thought somebody needed to stand up for Michael's integrity. Joanne faxed over a cover story from the Sydney Sun Herald dated Saturday, February 14th, 1998. It was written by a journalist whom we had been advised to ignore, and was all about the rift in the family. In actuality, the rift was something the press had invented for there had been no public display each of us grieving on our own terms and turf. However, the press was getting a lot out of Kell, who was willing to speak to anyone with press credentials. Because of his bitterness, rage and grief, he was spilling out anything that had ever made him angry, over the thirty-nine years he had known Mother. He was right about one thing, Mother and I had not had much contact with Rhett or Kell for fear that they would sell the information to a magazine or inform Diamond and Paul that we were planning to bring them to the table. As for Paula, we didn't even know where she was living anymore, so there were no harsh words, no contact.
Rhett had been quoted with a paraphrase of my words - that is he told the journalist to publish a statement from him which mirrored my statement in the magazine article just one week before! "It saddens and embarrasses me, etc." It stated that the men in the family had sided with Paula for the sake of the child. To a large extent it discredited Mother and me. I felt that this article and the previous one had been deliberately planted to discredit Mother and myself. If they were trying to make us back off, they were going about it the wrong way and it was way too late. We were in for the long haul, and we were fighting for Michael.
The other beneficiaries, Kell, Rhett, and Paula had been as quiet as mice about the will. Paula especially had much to lose, after all, she had Tiger Lily's future to think of. Why was she not complaining? The actions we were undertaking would help all the beneficiaries, but without the help of the others, who presumably also had evidence of Michael's holdings, it would be a long battle. We could not explain their lethargy. We were not heartened to learn that Kell and Rhett were in contact with the executors. It was obvious that Paula was not being ignored by Diamond, a s no woman in her position would or should stand for this treatment from executors. I have been told it is unethical and in fact against the law to favour one beneficiary over another, but this is exactly what was happening.
The executors began to turn up the heat. I was walking past my fax machine, when a newspaper article began rolling in. In an interview with Colin Diamond's ex-wife Robyn, headed ‘Will Protects Tiger Lily' the Sydney Sun Herald published the most defamatory piece so far although the courts later disagreed with us. It portrayed Mother and me as money-hungry relatives who had caused Michael to set up special trusts to protect his daughter from us. In fact it had quotation marks around ‘clutching' and ‘greedy'. It said 'Mr Diamond's ex-wife, Robyn, told The Sun Herald: "Michael set the whole thing up to protect Tiger so that she would inherit it one day. She's a little baby and he made Colin sole executor because Colin knows the family story." Mrs Diamond said the problems over Hutchence' will, stemmed from members of his family wanting more than they were given. It went on to say that past problems between Colin and Paula had been resolved. "They had a bit of a kerfuffle shortly after the death but now they are fine" . The Melbourne Age ran the same story under the heading, “Star Feared Greedy Relatives” with a curious byline.
The article stated that Michael had a baffling, worldwide network of trusts and holding companies in which to bury a fortune estimated at $40 million. Mr Diamond, it said, had legal control over them, and of assets previously thought to have been the rock star's property, including music publishing rights, a flood of royalties from record sales, a global property empire and a fleet of luxury cars. Mrs Diamond stated that Michael had put everything into trusts and placed them in the care of her ex-husband because he wanted to protect his money from relatives. The most damaging and outrageous misinformation in the piece referred to Mother and me in the last paragraph, which said, "the star's mother, Patricia Glassop and sister Tina appear to have been shut out of any major inheritance." It said that Kell was thought to be the beneficiary of at least one trust fund, however.
Coming from the woman who lived next door to Michael's financial advisor, his ex-wife with whom he has two children, this was more damaging than any ‘close source'. How could she be associated with an attack on two people who had so tragically and publicly lost a son and brother? There was so much misrepresentation in this article. The fact was that we had never questioned the will. Why would we? It expressed Michael's wishes and he had been very generous and fair. This article gave the impression that we were trying to take food out of Tiger Lily's mouth when the fact was we just wanted Michael's wishes adhered to and to ensure there was indeed something for her – which there wouldn't be if there was nothing of any value considered to be in the estate. In his will, Michael had not made reference to separating his assets, he just asked for all of his assets to be divided between Tiger Lily, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Mother, Kell, Rhett, Paula and myself. He did not say, “I want everything tangible, anything of value to go to my financial advisors.” If he wanted these men to have his money after he died he would have provided for them. It was very convenient for those who thought otherwise to accuse us of trying to steal from Tiger, claiming to be protecting her interests themselves. We were concerned to ensure that there would be something left for her when she came of age. From then on, every time we annoyed these people, they would stand behind Michael's little daughter. We could see that if the executors were left alone to continue their business there would be nothing left for her when she came of age.
It was simple. Michael's financial advisors had set up trusts to house all of his properties, cars, bank accounts, and even his ongoing income. This way his tax burden was lowered. When a person with this arrangement passes on, there should be an executor in place to disburse the assets accordingly in the interests of the estate. We knew at least enough of Michael's financial dealings to have an idea where the assets might lie, and therefore felt it appropriate to ask some difficult, delving, questions. We wondered if this had sparked the press interest.
We spoke with Joanne several times that day. I faxed her a letter reminding her of the reasons why we had begun this journey. At no time had we questioned the structure of the will or its' fairness, we simply did not trust its executors to carry out Michael's wishes. During this weekend we had many tearful calls back and forth with Joanne. Mother considered giving up. Joanne said she'd understand if we made this decision, but she felt that the article had been planted expressly for this purpose. Obviously we were on the right track and we were annoying them.
We later learned that the piece was written by New Zealand journalist, Stephen D'antel and had been sent into the newspaper on a Saturday afternoon. Someone had made the decision not to check any of the information in the piece and to run it for Sunday morning. Something else, The Age newspaper ironically listed the journalist as Stephen D'antel diamond – a misprint I assumed!
All we were we guilty of was loving Michael, being devastated by his death and of wanting to be sure that he was not made a victim one more time. But the angry responses we were meeting with made me begin to question his love for me. But although our time together over the years had been sporadic, due to our separate continents, he had always been so loving and supportive. I could not let fear of consequences impede my resolve, and affect what I knew to be true in my heart.
The article implied that Michael did not love us. Mother said that if we were to question Michaels' love now we would go out of our minds. I agreed but it did not help my physical and mental pain. We were becoming increasingly isolated. Those few close friends who knew how to reach us said that we displayed dignity in our silence and commended us for not speaking to the press. They did not know how difficult it was to keep quiet at times when so much misinformation was being flung around. We had been portrayed as the grasping mother and sister from hell that Michael had not cared to be around. Before this we had thought we were doing the right thing for Michael but now we just wanted to hide. But going to ground did not mean giving up.
END CHAPTER FOURTEEN