La Toya Jackson: 'paternity claims hurt the family'

LOS ANGELES: La Toya Jackson has slammed the recent legal tug-of-war over her late brother Michael's kids, insisting paternity claims left the star's relatives angry and upset.

When the pop superstar passed away in June (09) the spotlight was turned on his three children, with questions raised over the kids' real parents.

Jackson long claimed to have fathered Prince Michael, 12, and Paris, 11, with his ex-wife Debbie Rowe. His youngest child, seven-year-old Prince Michael II was conceived using a surrogate mother.

But the singer's long time pal Mark Lester subsequently came forward to claim he may be Paris' biological father.

The former child actor, who is godfather to Jackson's kids, claimed to have donated sperm to the superstar in the 1990s.

Rumours also swirled around the Thriller hitmaker's dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, who fuelled rumours he's the biological father of Prince,12, and Paris, 11, when he appeared on TV and claimed he wasn't their dad "to the best of my knowledge".

Klein, Rowe's former boss, also sent his lawyer to oversee the child custody hearings in Los Angeles, prompting speculation he was more than a family friend to the kids.

Katherine Jackson, who was granted custody of the kids, released a furious statement after Lester spoke out, insisting his claims were "self-serving, lack legal standing and do not serve the best interests of thechildren."

And now La Toya has revealed the speculation shook the Jackson family to the core.

She says, "My mother didn't understand it. It was a very sensitive time to be bringing that up. Why not approach my parents for a private conversation? It's interesting how many people suddenly want to be the parent.

"Thank God the children haven't heard about it as they don't watch TV. Do you know how many people in America have said they're the parents? It's amazing. All these women saying, 'I'm the mother. I'm the mother'. Michael was always the father and the mother to those children."