By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 06, 2003 01:00 PM

In the wake of the jaw-dropping British TV documentary on Michael Jackson — containing revelations on how he sleeps (chastely, he says) with children, and how he snatched his daughter from the delivery room with her umbilical chord still attached — the musician has issued a statement.

“Today I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before, that someone who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair program,” Jackson said in the statement, which was released in London and reported by Reuters.

“Everyone who knows me will know the truth, which is that my children come first in my life and that I would never harm any child.”

Jackson, 44, is shown in the film at his Neverland Ranch in California as well as on a $6 million shopping spree, among other backdrops.

British journalist Martin Bashir, who lent a sympathetic ear and a TV crew to Princess Diana when she wished to wash out the dirty laundry about her marriage, conducted the Jackson interview, which The Washington Post, in its review of the show, called “a car wreck.”

The documentary aired in England on Monday and will run on ABC Thursday. In it, Jackson insists there is nothing wrong with sharing his bed with children and that he would kill himself if there were no children left in the world.

Jackson’s two older children, 5-year-old Prince Michael I and 4-year-old Paris, appear with Jackson wearing party masks in Bashir’s film, which is called “Living with Michael Jackson.” (The Post reports that Paris’s dark hair roots can be seen under her bleached blonde hair.)

Jackson also feeds his third child, 1-year-old Prince Michael II — nicknamed Blanket — a bottle of milk while draping a veil over his head on the show.

Jackson’s statement goes on to say that the show is “a gross distortion of the truth and a tawdry attempt to misrepresent” his life and his abilities as a father.

“Michael feels deeply angry that the program could have led viewers to conclude that he abuses children in any way,” it added. “Michael Jackson has never, and would never, treat a child inappropriately or expose them to any harm and totally refutes any suggestions to the contrary.”