“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. So said Winshton, as the Second World War turned in the Allies’ favour. A similar sentiment could be expressed after the latest setback for long trusted Murdoch favourite Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, after the latest prop holding up his credibility was kicked away earlier.
Time was when Maz got his stings in the papers, his targets nicked, and a conviction at the end of it all. Rupe must have loved the extra sales for the Screws, and more recently the Sunday Sun. Then came the first stage of the Fake Sheikh’s downfall, as witnesses were exposed as unreliable, typified by the Victoria Beckham “kidnapping” that never was: the case was thrown out.
But it was this year when the wheels really started to come off his wagon, after Judge Alistair McCreath decided Mahmood had lied to him in order to manipulate the evidence in the Tulisa Contostavlos drugs case. So not only were witnesses being picked off, judges were wise to him. A Police investigation was launched, with the prospect of Mahmood being charged a distinct possibility.
Could it get yet worse? You betcha, says Sarah: in yet another reversal of fortune, the latest Fake Sheikh case has been abandoned, this time before it even came to trial. As Press Gazette has noted, “Leon ‘Starino’ Anderson ... was arrested after The Sun ran an article claiming that he sold £300 worth of cocaine and MDMA ... [he] was due to stand trial for supplying drugs”.
And there’s more: “His alleged co-conspirator, Ashley Gordon, 21, was charged with two counts of possessing just over one gramme of cocaine and one gramme of MDMA.But the case collapsed at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court before Judge Alistair McCreath, who also threw out the case against Contostavlos, after prosecutors said Mahmood was not reliable”.
The prosecution spelled out why: “the position is that Mazher Mahmood gave evidence on two occasions in that [Contostavlos] case which tended to contradict itself ... the position is that the Crown can no longer rely on Mr Mahmood as a witness of truth in this case, and for that reason, I offer no evidence against Mr Gordon on behalf of the Crown”. In other words, Mahmood is likely to lie under oath.
All of that suggests that there is no point bringing forward any more of Mazher Mahmood’s stings, as they invariably rely in part on his evidence, and he’s effectively been called a liar. On top of that are all those past cases where those targeted have made accusations of foul play. The Fake Sheikh can look forward to rather closer attention from the Pollice – and Murdoch to yet more reputational damage.
As Rupe’s pal Maggie once said, “just rejoice at that news”.