Of all the commentary on the trial which ended in a guilty verdict against Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, none is as bizarre as the rant in today’s Daily Mail from the paper’s Glenda Emeritus Amanda Platell, where she tries to link the whole business to the BBC, Sarah Ferguson, and Cliff Richard. “Why Fergie is a national disgrace and should hang her head in shame” is the title.
The stuff of nightmares
After briefly discussing Cliff’s action against the Beeb, and passing adverse comment on the Corporation as required by her legendarily foul mouthed editor, Ms Platell continues “Coincidentally, we heard about another law suit being prepared yesterday. Royal hanger-on Fergie is suing over a tabloid sting in which she was caught red-handed on film six years ago offering access to her former husband Prince Andrew for a princely £500,000”.
What’s this about? “Fergie was a victim of the News Of The World’s ‘Fake Sheikh’ Mazher Mahmood, who was posing as a businessman prepared to pay to meet Prince Andrew, and claims she deserves compensation because the expose was unfair and lost her millions in potential work and endorsements”. And she knows who to back, or not.
“The fact is that Fergie was exposed as a shocking royal leech prepared to sell her ex-husband’s connections to the highest bidder … And now she’s got her grasping hands out again, joining other victims of the Fake Sheikh who plan to lodge law suits for compensation … Fergie’s brazen opportunism - when she was caught bang to rights by Mahmood in a truly scandalous case of ‘cash for access’ - is shocking even by her standards”. But there is a problem with this one.
Moreover, we do not know is the full context of the sting Maz pulled on her. What we do know, and what Ms Platell has clearly missed, is that her former pal John Bryan is most certainly suing, and in the USA too, for a six-figure sum - in whatever currency units one chooses.
And what Ms Platell also manages not to mention is that many of those who are suing over Mahmood’s stings were ruined by his activities - people like John Alford, who is one of those seeking to overturn his drugs conviction which ended his acting career. Maz was caught on video laughing with his entourage over Alford’s almost certain ruin.
No, instead the Mail columnist selects a soft target, someone who can easily be characterised as greedy and feckless, and selects only the evidence that makes that target look bad. That is the Daily Mail way. There are those who are right to sue - especially if they take action against the hated BBC. And there are those who are wrong, especially if they go after our free and fearless press.
We can expect much more of this water-muddying in the coming months as the press tell us not only that Mahmood was a mere hack - he wasn’t, as I pointed out yesterday - and ramming home the message “yes, he rightly faces jail BUT”. But nothing - the civil claims are piling up and cheap propagandists like Amanda Platell will change nothing.