Mazher Mahmood, the journalist who uncovered the 2010 spot fixing scandal, jailed
Updated - Oct 22, 2016 7:05 am
British journalist Mazher Mahmood, who known among cricket fans for his role in the 2009 spot-fixing sting operation has been jailed for 15 months on Friday for tampering with evidence in a high-profile trial. The 53-year-old journalist whose elaborate disguises have duped criminals, celebrities, and even royalty, plotted to get his driver to change a police statement during the drugs prosecution of Tulisa Contostavlos, a singer and former judge of the British version of the “X Factor” TV talent show.
Contostavlos had been about to go on trial accused of supplying cocaine for Mahmood, the self-styled “King of the Sting”, as he posed as an influential Indian film producer while working on an exclusive story for the Sun on Sunday paper.
He was renowned for his “fake sheikh” undercover sting operations for media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid – News of the World – which was closed in 2011 after it was revealed senior journalists had been hacking voicemails on mobile phones to get stories.
This latest conviction will probably ruin his career. Around 18 individuals caught out by Mahmood’s stings are planning to take civil action against him and lawyers are reviewing cases in which his evidence had led to successful criminal prosecutions.
“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.”
Prosecutors said Mahmood got his driver, Alan Smith, to change a statement he gave to detectives which would have made Contostavlos’s conviction less likely by supporting her case that she was a victim of entrapment. Her trial collapsed in July 2014 after questions arose about Smith’s evidence.
Earlier this month, both men were found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice at London’s Old Bailey court and on Friday Mahmood was jailed for 15 months while Smith was given a suspended 12-month prison term.
In 2010, Mahmood carried out the undercover inquiry with three Pakistan cricketers – Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif – which revealed that the trio had conspired to bowl no-balls during a Test match at Lord’s in 2010 in return for a share of £150,000. This revelation led to the arrest of the trio along with the bookie Mazhar Majeed.
Following the ‘sting’ operation, the three players were banned for a minimum of five years each by the International Cricket Council. At a subsequent separate court hearing in London, they were all given prison sentences.