Tulisa demands police investigation of ‘Fake Sheikh’ Mazher Mahmood after drugs trial collapses

Judge Alistair McCreath’s comments raise the prospect of Mahmood being investigated for perjury or perverting the course of justice

Media Editor

Tulisa Contostavlos, the singer and former judge on television show The X-Factor, has demanded a police investigation of the undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood after a judge sensationally ended a trial in which she was encouraged to obtain drugs for the so-called “Fake Sheikh”.

Mahmood, who works for the Sun on Sunday, has been suspended by his employer News UK, pending an internal investigation after a judge at Southwark Crown Court said there were “strong grounds for believing” that the journalist “told me lies when he gave evidence”.

Calling an end to the proceedings, Judge Alistair McCreath, who also suggested the reporter may have been “manipulating the evidence”, said: “It should not be forgotten that Mr Mahmood is: the sole progenitor of this case; the sole investigator; the sole prosecution witness.”

The judge’s comments raise the prospect of Mahmood being investigated for perjury or perverting the course of justice.

Video: The Independent's Adam Sherwin on the Tulisa trial

The case was based on a sting by The Sun on Sunday in which Contostavlos was approached by journalists posing as film producers and flown to Los Angeles and Las Vegas on the promise of a lead role in a film with Leonardo DiCaprio. The paper published its findings in a front page “World Exclusive” under the headline “Tulisa’s Cocaine Deal Shame” on 2 June.

“This case only happened because Mahmood and his team tricked me into believing I was auditioning for a major movie role,” said the singer in a statement. 

“They targeted me at a time when things were going badly for me and they had no mercy. Mahmood got me and my team completely intoxicated and persuaded me to act the part of a bad, rough, ghetto girl. They recorded this and produced it as evidence when I thought it was an audition. It was a terrible thing to do.”


She called for police action against the journalist. “I urge both police and News UK to investigate Mazher Mahmood and his team and to put an end to his deceit in pursuit of sensational stories for commercial gain.”

Ms Contostavlos’s lawyer Ben Rose said the Crown Prosecution Service should not have brought the case. “I’m disappointed that they failed to listen to the many representations we made to them that this was not a proper use of the Criminal Justice System.”

The judge’s decision meant that her friend, the musician Michael Coombs, known as Mike GLC, was also cleared by the court despite having pleading guilty to supplying cocaine.

Contostavlos came to fame in the London group N-Dubz, which she formed with her cousin Dappy. Helped by her TV success, she signed a publishing deal in 2012 for an autobiography in which told how she was drugged and sexually abused when she was 16 and involved in a girl gang. She said she has not been able to work for a year because of the Sun on Sunday sting.


The damning criticism of the high-profile tabloid reporter’s behaviour in court could have repercussions for press regulation as the new Independent Press Standards Organisation, under former Appeal Court judge Sir Alan Moses, prepares to start operating in September.

Press reformers group seized on the collapsed trial to suggest that the newspaper publishers could not be trusted to set up their own regulatory system. Joan Smith, Hacked Off’s Executive Director, said: “What has happened in this case explodes the self-serving myth propagated by some in the press industry that, when the News of the World closed, newspaper malpractice was ended.”

The case collapsed on the basis of evidence provided on oath by Mahmood in June in relation to discussions the reporter may have had with his driver Alan Smith, who gave a police statement saying Ms Contostavlos had told him that a member of her family had a drug problem and she “disapproved of drugs”.

Mahmood told the judge he had no discussion with the driver about this.

But as the judge halted proceedings today he said: “When [Mahmood] gave evidence last week, he was asked questions on the same topic and gave answers which were entirely inconsistent with his earlier evidence.”

Discussing Mahmood’s behaviour, the judge said: “There are also strong grounds for believing that the underlying purpose of these lies was to conceal the fact that he had been manipulating the evidence in this case by getting Mr Smith to change his account.”

A spokesman for The Sun said: “We are very disappointed with this outcome, but do believe the original investigation was conducted within the bounds of the law and the industry's code. This was demonstrated by the CPS decision to prosecute. The Sun, of course, takes the judge’s remarks very seriously. Mr Mahmood has been suspended pending an immediate internal investigation.”

It is understood that there is at least one further case based on a Mahmood sting due to come before the courts. Mr Rose, of London solicitor Hickman & Rose, said he had already been contacted by several people who claim they were unfairly convicted on the basis of investigations by Mahmood.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor