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Friday 7 November 2014

Fake Sheikh’s Last Stand

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

While most of the press is hoping that there is enough going on in the political world to distract their readers, the Murdoch empire is today helping one of its most prized assets to mount a last stand against the hated BBC, as Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, goes to the High Court seeking an injunction against the Panorama programme that has already been delayed for a week.
An updated version may be available on Monday

As I predicted earlier, the expose will not only reveal his methods, but also his face. He managed to keep that hidden from public view even through his testimony to the Leveson Inquiry, and claims that, were his identity to be revealed, he would be in danger from some of those he has helped convict. Not everyone is convinced, and there is a more likely alternative explanation.

Back in April 2006, Mahmood failed to prevent publication of his identity. As Press Gazette has noted, “Mr Justice Mitting rejected Mahmood's claim, saying that he was satisfied that the true purpose of the application was not to protect his life but to protect his earning capacity and his position as an investigative journalist for the News of the World”. That is why the Murdoch press is footing the bill today.

It gets worse for the Fake Sheikh: we now know that the Panorama programme has much more to reveal. As the Guardian has observed, not only has “A reporter ... spoken to some of the highest profile targets of Mahmood”, but also “The programme, which was already been delayed once, has interviewed his targets, and the men who helped him expose them, to provide an examination of his methods”.

My understanding is that some of Mahmood’s former accomplices are no longer well disposed towards him, having in some cases been, let us say, shat on by him. So when the chance came to make a full and frank disclosure to the Beeb, some of them needed very little inducement to do so. The suspicion of criminality in Mahmood’s dealings has been there for some time.

How might the hearing play out? Well, the portents are not good for the Murdoch press and their suspended star: for starters, there is that last attempt to stop publication of his identity, which ended in failure. He has been branded a liar and manipulator of evidence by a judge recently. Two further trials involving his work have since collapsed. And then there are the victims.

Some of them are deeply unhappy about the use of entrapment to secure convictions. One thing is for sure: Sir David Eady, formerly Mr Justice Eady, before whom the case is scheduled to be heard, is unlikely to have much time for bullshitters. I understand the main reason the Murdoch press has taken it so far is that its own reputation will take a serious hit if Panorama goes out.

Mazher Mahmood’s wild west show may be about to make its last stand.

[UPDATE1 1615 hours: What did I tell you? News has just arrived on Zelo Street that Mazher Mahmood has lost his bid to prevent his identity being revealed.

As a result, the Panorama programme will go ahead - unedited - on Monday next. The damage to the Murdoch empire, which has just seen sales of the Sun, which has a poor internet presence, dip below two million sales a day for the first time since 1971, could be severe.

A man who is regarded as little more than a criminal who has dabbled in journalism is about to get his comeuppance. Let joy be unconfined]

[UPDATE2 10 November 1655 hours: Mazher Mahmood made another attempt to stop the Panorama broadcast today, when he took his case to the Court of Appeal.

It can now be revealed that he lost his appeal. Panorama will go ahead at 2030 hours this evening, as planned, and without any editing being necessary. Mahmood may well have created his own Streisand effect, and it couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow. Bring it on, John Sweeney]


rob said...

"Mazher Mahmood’s wild west show may be about to make its last stand."

Shoot out before the very Last, Last Chance Saloon (yet again)? Or will Cameron declare another truce for IPSO facto election backers?

Dacre bangs gong! (the death knell for truthful reporting?)

Arnold said...

"were his identity to be revealed, he would be in danger from some of those he has helped convict." But they have already seen him recently since that photo was taken.

rob said...

Pretty obvious his identity was not really at issue (confirmation courtesy of tweet Andrew Wickham) but the publicity of NOTW's use of certain PIs who were connected with the Daniel Morgan Murder Mystery (hah!) and other nefarious acts.

Getting closer to why Jacqui Hames and her husband were the subjects of surveillance by NOTW?