Croydon journalist jailed for 15 months

Croydon Journalist Metropolitan Police

Pic: Metropolitan Police

A journalist from Croydon known as the Fake Sheikh was jailed after being found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice on October 21.

53-year-old Mazher Mahmood of Purley, Croydon, was convicted at the Old Bailey to a 15-month imprisonment and was ordered to pay a £30,000 surcharge to the victim.

His driver Alan Smith, 67, was also found guilty of the same offence and sentenced for 12 months’ imprisonment and suspended for two years.

The two men were jailed following their involvement in singer Tulisa Contostavlos’ case. Mahmood, who has been employed by News UK for the past 25 years, first met Contostavlos in 2013, when she arranged for him to get an amount of an A class drug of the value of £800.

The singer was later arrested and charged with the supply of the class A drug with the evidence that was handed to the Metropolitan police by Mahmood and Smith.

The sentence was then thrown out when the pair was found guilty of modifying the police statement.

During the trial, Judge Gerald Gordon said: “You, Alan Smith, agreed to and did alter your original witness statement to remove the passage that you both realised could be used to support Tulisa Contostavlos’s case in an entrapment hearing.

“Mazher Mahmood, it was your idea. You were the intended beneficiary and you made use of a loyal person, partly an employee, in order to achieve your purpose.

“The motive was to preserve and enhance your reputation”, he added.

Following the verdict, lawyers announced that 18 other people had also been the objects of Mahmoud’s fraudulent actions.

News UK said that the undercover journalist no longer worked for the organisation. A spokesperson said: “It is a source of great regret that his time with the company should end in this manner.”

The case was handled by the Metropolitan Police Special Enquiry Team. Detective Constable Jim Morrison, officer in the case, said: “This case is a reminder that perverting the course of justice is a very serious offence that goes to heart of our justice system. We will always take action where statements or other evidence have been tampered with.”

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