Fake sheikh jailed: King of Sting to serve 15 months behind bars
Infamous British journalist - the ‘fake Sheikh’ - has been jailed for 15 months this past week after being found guilty of tampering with evidence in a high-profile trial.
The investigate reporter, real name Mazher Mahmood, was involved in a number of undercover sting operation for media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids over the past 25 years.
His disguise has duped criminals and celebrities in the past yet it was his attempt to see former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos convicted for dealing cocaine which saw him step over the line of legality.
Contostavlos was due to go on trial accused of supplying cocaine to Mahmood, who had posed as an influential film producer whilst secretly working for the Sun on Sunday newspaper.
Prosecutors said Mahmood had got his driver, Alan Smith, to change a statement he had prepared for detectives as it would have made Contostavlos's conviction less likely by supporting her case that she was a victim of entrapment.
Both men were found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice at London's Old Bailey court earlier this month.
Mahmood was finally jailed for 15 months on Friday with Smith given a suspended 12-month prison term.
Following the sentencing, it was revealed that 18 other individuals, who had previously been caught out by Mahmood’s stings, are also now planning to take civil action against him.
“Mazher has led scores of successful investigations during his 25-year career with the company,” a News UK spokesman said, adding any legal claims would be ‘vigorously defended’.
“His work has led to the exposure of criminality and wrongdoing. It is a source of great regret that his time with the company should end in this manner.”
Mahmood initially built up his reputation as the ‘King of the Sting’ during his work with Murdoch’s now defunct newspaper, News of the World.
His work has previously seen several high-profile convictions, including the 2011 case of spot-fixing in an international game between Pakistan and England which saw three Pakistani cricketers jailed.
Members of the Royal family have not escaped Mahmood’s work either, with Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Michael of Kent and Sarah Ferguson.
Not all stings have been successful with some leading only to prosecutions which collapsed, including the case against five men accused of plotting to kidnap singer-turned-designer Victoria Beckham in 2002.