Week 30: Prat – Mazher Mahmood

by Jackie_South on July 27, 2014

Journo_Prat

This week Mazher Mahmood, “the Fake Sheikh” wins our award for being the biggest prat of the last seven days.

The last two decades have seen revelation after revelation of celebrity human frailty and venality at the hands of the Fake Sheikh, the Brummie king of the undercover sting, Mazher Mahmood. This week, it was shown that some of these revelations were nothing of the sort.

First with the defunct News of the World and more recently with its inferior successor Sun on Sunday, Mahmood’s set ups have led to 94 convictions. Scalps include the Duchess of Wessex, the Earl of Hardwicke, the Pakistani cricket team, John Fashanu, the directors of Newcastle United, Sven Goran Eriksson, John Higgins and actor John Alford. The latter case ruined a young man’s acting career 17 years ago in circumstances that bear some similarity to his most recent case to hit the courts.

Indeed Tulisa Contostavlos can count herself lucky to have avoided a similar fate to Alford this week. Dragged first through the court of public opinion and then the Crown Court itself by the Sun on Sunday, she was set up by Mahmood to apparently help arrange supplying him with cocaine. Mahmood posed as a Bollywood film producer and offered the gullable Contostavlos the opportunity of a film with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Versions of  what actually happened vary: Contostavlos states that she had told him that she was personally against hard drugs, but could play the bad girl if the part required it.  She claims that it was her demonstrating this that was caught on tape: that the ‘evidence’ splashed across the red top front pages was effectively just a read-through of a part.

The evidence is in her favour: the judge called a halt to the trial on Monday given that Mahmood had seemingly lied on oath. Judge McCreath  stated that there were “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 his driver to change his evidence, which had originally revealed that Contostavlos had told him that she disapproved of drugs.

So, Contostavlos leaves the trial without a stain on her character (well, barring the assault charge she was found guilty of on Friday) but Mahmood now faces perjury claims. The Crown Prosecution Service is now investigating 30 previous criminal cases where Mahmood’s ‘evidence’ secured a conviction.

It looks as if Mahmood played his trick one too many times. His prattery may well end up with his next inside exclusive being in chokey.

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