After Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, got guilty on charges that he tried to fiddle the Tulisa trial in order to tilt that particular playing field a little more in his direction, it was made plain that two things would follow. One was that several convictions secured as a result of his past “sting” operations would now face review. The second was the certainty that civil claims, totally tens of millions of pounds, would be lodged.
So when one of those claimants, Sarah Ferguson - still entitled to call herself Duchess of York - reached for m’learned friend, no-one should have been surprised. The problem for the press was that most of them had, in due deference to the Murdoch mafiosi, said as little as possible about Maz’ downfall - he was, after all, as Zelo Street has pointed out, very close to Murdoch and his inner circle - and so this has become new news to them.
Hence the Mail On Sunday pretending to be aghast today as it tells readers “FERGIE: I WANT £25M FOR FAKE SHEIKH STING … Duchess’s astonishing legal battle for lost earnings and humiliation over Andrew cash-for-access scandal”. I mean, how DARE she? Is there no limit to this woman’s shameless money-grabbing? Why Oh Why Oh Why?
The alleged “exclusive” tells readers “The Duchess of York has launched an astounding lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch, demanding more than £25 million over the cash-for-access sting that destroyed her reputation … In explosive court documents, Fergie claims undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood tricked her when she offered to introduce him to Prince Andrew for £500,000”. And Brave Rupe is fighting back!
“But in a vigorous counterattack, lawyers for Mr Murdoch’s publishing company accuse her of ‘dishonesty’ and attempted fraud, and describe her case as ‘defective and embarrassing’”. Yes, showing that the MoS is in lockstep with the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, the Murdoch goons are lauded as “vigorous”.
Mazher Mahmood - more bent than his victims
More interesting is that, as the MoS concedes, “the writ claims Mahmood - who was jailed last month for tampering with evidence in the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlo [sic] - invaded the Duchess’s privacy and ‘used deceit’ to induce her to make ‘unguarded statements to her detriment’ … She says that when the News Of The World ran the story, it took her comments out of context, causing ‘serious embarrassment, humiliation, distress and reputational damage’ and huge financial losses”.
And the problem for the Murdoch empire is laid bare, perhaps unintentionally, when the MoS tells “The two sides differ on who first mentioned Andrew. Fergie’s legal team say Mahmood raised the subject after expressing interest in financially backing her business ventures. But the newspaper’s lawyers said it was the Duchess who ‘introduced the idea of Mahmood meeting the Duke’”. The defence of Fergie’s claim rests on Maz’ credibility.
Thus the problem. It’s going to come down to Mazher Mahmood being treated as a credible witness. And the whole world now knows he is not a credible witness. Getting the Mail on Sunday to advance the idea that Fergie is just greedy and fraudulent shows that the Murdoch goons are already worried. This one could become very expensive indeed.
Mazher Mahmood, the “criminal with an NUJ card”, is back in play. Get the popcorn in.