Michael Jackson's former friend David Gest has spoken out about the feud which has threatened to tear the famous family apart in recent months, insisting the clan needs to "heal and come together".

The late superstar's relatives hit headlines earlier this year (12) when his siblings Janet, Jermaine, Tito, Rebbie and Randy Jackson launched a public fight to have John Branca and John MCClain removed as estate executors.

Tito and Jermaine subsequently withdrew from the bid to overthrow the administrators, but the feud escalated when Michael's mother Katherine was reported missing during a trip to Arizona and a judge later stripped her of full custody of the singer's three kids, appointing Tito's son T.J. as permanent co-guardian.

Gest has now revealed Katherine took a break to get away from the family feud, but he insists the children should have been kept informed.

He tells Britain's The Sun newspaper, "Was it the wisest decision? No. The kids obviously panicked - justifiably so. They should have been able to speak to her (Katherine). The family need time to heal and come together as a unit...

"I talk to Katherine once a week and I love her. She's like a second mum to me... She loves Michael's children. And I think she's trying to be a good mother to them."