Tulisa Contostavlos drugs trial collapse - CPS to investigate Fake Sheikh's credibility as witness

 

Media Editor

The Crown Prosecution Service is scrutinising the accuracy of evidence given by undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood in more than 30 previous criminal cases in order to assess his credibility as a witness in a series of ongoing investigations due to come before the courts, The Independent understands.

A high-profile police inquiry into allegations of football match-fixing and the prosecution of a doctor for allegedly selling abortion pills are among the ongoing cases resulting from Fake Sheikh “stings” that could be reconsidered following the sensational collapse of the Tulisa Contostavlos drugs trial.

Tulisa Contostavlos found guilty of assault

Mr Mahmood has been credited with bringing about the conviction of more than 90 individuals but his integrity was challenged this week when the judge in the Contostavlos case case said there were “strong grounds” for believing the reporter “told me lies” and “had been manipulating the evidence”.

Several cases involving Mr Mahmood’s evidence are currently in or about to reach the criminal justice system.

Mr Mahmood has been suspended by his employer News UK, pending an internal investigation. Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service are in discussions as to whether to take action against Mr Mahmood, who could be investigated for possible perjury or perversion of the course of justice.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has made 13 arrests during an investigation into allegations of football corruption, which began last December after an undercover sting by Mr Mahmood for the Sun on Sunday.

In February Sam Sodje claimed he was the victim of a “media stunt” In February Sam Sodje claimed he was the victim of a “media stunt” (Getty Images)
There may also be concerns if any of the journalist’s evidence is to be used in the case of Dr Majeed Ridha, who was charged in March with illegally supplying abortion pills. The criminal prosecution followed an investigation by Mr Mahmood published in September 2012 by The Sunday Times, where he then worked. The doctor was secretly filmed by the undercover reporter at a meeting in a London hotel.

In a third case, a London-based celebrity PR, Leon Anderson, and his cousin Ashley Gordon are facing drugs charges following a sting in London’s Mayfair, resulting in a front page story in The Sun on Sunday.

In a statement to The Independent last night, a CPS spokesperson said: “In relation to ongoing cases, we are currently identifying those cases which have relied on the evidence of Mazher Mahmood, both past and present, and are carefully considering the next steps.”

Mr Mahmood told the Leveson inquiry on press standards that his work had led to more than 250 convictions but the figure was revised down to 94 by his employer, News UK, following an inquiry. Numerous investigations by the Fake Sheikh have led to successful criminal prosecutions, including the famous cricket “spot-fixing” scandal of 2010, which led to three Pakistani players being convicted and banned from the sport.

London solicitor Ben Rose, who represented the singer Ms Contostavlos, criticised the justice system for bringing a case on the basis of what he called “vigilante journalism”. He said his client was offered a £3.5m inducement in the toilet of a Mayfair restaurant by an unnamed associate of Mr Mahmood’s. Ms Contostavlos, who was flown to America as part of the sting, was offered a leading part in a Hollywood film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Mr Rose said: “English law does not forbid entrapment but a court should not permit a prosecution where wholly disproportionate inducements are offered or where the sting merely tests the virtue of the innocent. There was a series of fail-safe points where this trial might have been stopped.”

The NCA investigation began in December immediately after a Sun on Sunday splash headline “Ex Prem Stars In Match Fix Probe”. The agency made six arrests, including that of Sam Sodje, who was secretly filmed by the paper. The Sun on Sunday claimed that he boasted that he had earned £70,000 after being sent off for punching an Oldham Athletic player in the groin while playing for Portsmouth in February 2012. Part of the film was shown on The Sun’s website. In the accompanying article, Mr Mahmood wrote that the paper’s investigator “posed as a middleman representing a syndicate of professional gamblers based in the Far East”.

None of the 13 individuals arrested and bailed in the NCA probe has yet been charged. In February, Sodje claimed he was the victim of a “media stunt”.

He reportedly told the website All Nigeria Soccer that Mr Mahmood had approached him to do charity work. “I wanted to do charity work for him in Dubai, for retired players to have a testimonial and the proceeds will go to the less privileged. And that was what Mahmood came to talk to me about, this was on for nine months. Let them check my phone records from January to December, I never spoke about match fixing.”

In April, the NCA, which will have been carrying out its own independent evaluation of the evidence, arrested six Preston North End players and one from Barnsley in relation to the same “spot-fixing” inquiry.

An NCA spokesperson said: “There are a number of people on bail and while there is that ongoing we cannot give further commentary on evidence or speculate on what might happen. When those individuals answer bail there will be a decision on next steps.”

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker