Free Press Journal

Pakistani-origin undercover reporter guilty of misleading UK court


London: A Pakistani-origin undercover reporter, who became infamous as the ‘Fake Sheikh’ after posing as a Saudi millionaire for a series of sting operations over the years, was today found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, reports PTI.

Mazher Mahmood, a former investigations editor for the erstwhile Rupert Murdoch owned ‘News of the World’ tabloid, was found to have “misled” the court during a drugs trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos at Southwark Crown Court in July last year.

The 53-year-old reporter had been charged alongside his driver Alan Smith, who was also found guilty of the same charge following a trial at the Old Bailey court in London this week. Both men will be sentenced on October 21. Tulisa had faced an allegation of supplying half an ounce of cocaine, following a story in the ‘Sun on Sunday’ by Mahmood.

But the trial was thrown out after 67-year-old Smith changed his statement to leave out vital information.

Mahmood met the singer in London and she allegedly arranged for him to be sold cocaine by one of her contacts for 800 pounds. The former N-Dubz star was later arrested and charged with being concerned in the supply of a Class A prohibited drug, after Mahmood handed evidence to police.

Referring to Mahmood, prosecutor Sarah Forshaw QC said: “He knew that if it could be shown that he had acted improperly as an agent provocateur, inducing Miss Contostavlos to do something she would not otherwise do, his own credibility and standing and the prospect of conviction in the case might both be severely damaged.

“If they were innocent men with nothing to hide, wouldn’t they be shouting it from the rooftops?” After her case collapsed in July 2014, Tulia had told reporters she had been the victim of “a horrific and disgusting entrapment”.