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 on Friday sentenced to 15 months in prison for tampering with court evidence.
Mazher Mahmood, 53, was found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice earlier this month.
The 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.
He was charged alongside his driver Alan Smith, 67, who was also found guilty of the same charge following a trial at the Old Bailey court in London on October 5.
Judge Gerald Gordon sentenced Smith to 12 months but the sentence was suspended for two years.
Murdoch’s News UK, for which Mahmood continued to work, said it was terminating Mahmood’s employment.
A spokesperson said, “Mazher has led scores of successful investigations during his 25-year career with the company. 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”.
“We have noted the threats made after Mazher’s conviction of civil claims against this company in relation to his previous work. Should such claims be brought, they will be vigorously defended,” the spokesperson said.
Singer 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 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 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, would not they be shouting it from the rooftops?” After her case collapsed in July 2014, Tulisa had told reporters she had been the victim of “a horrific and disgusting entrapment,” Forshaw said.