He enacted sting after sting for the now defunct Screws: Mazher Mahmood, aka The Fake Sheikh, was a legend among those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet. Many convictions have depended wholly on his evidence, and his activities. But last July, the party came to an abrupt end as Mahmood was exposed as a liar. As a result, his sting operation against singer Tulisa Contostavlos collapsed.
It got worse: more trials that were either wholly or partly dependent on his evidence also fell through, notably one of 13 footballers who had been accused of match-fixing. In the meantime, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been examining past cases which depended on Mahmood’s evidence and resulted in criminal convictions. There were, last December, estimated to be 25 of those. And now the CPS may be about to act.
As Roy Greenslade reported on Monday, “The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is studying a file on the Sun on Sunday’s investigative reporter Mazher Mahmood prepared by the Metropolitian police … The CPS has confirmed that it received the final police report on the journalist known as the fake sheikh on 6 June ‘relating to allegations of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice’”. But action may not come immediately.
Why so? Well, one look at Peter Jukes’ summary of Fake Sheikh related material, which you can see at Byline Media, gives a hint of the potential for a prosecution of Mazher Mahmood to open a veritable Pandora’s Box. The key to unlock that box? Mahmood would appear at court with two security guards. As Peter has noted, “reliable sources allege one of Mazher's bodyguards was the prime suspect for the Daniel Morgan murder”.
The murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan in 1987 is becoming recognised as “the cradle of The Dark Arts”. He was about to expose significant Police corruption; his partner at Southern Investigations, Jonathan Rees, went on to work with the Screws and other papers, and later was sent down for seven years for attempting to pervert the course of justice. Morgan’s murder is now the subject of a new Inquiry.
Morgan’s successor as Rees’ partner at Southern Investigations, former Police officer Sid Fillery, worked extensively with Mazher Mahmood. If the CPS is to launch a prosecution against Mahmood, the possibility of dragging in any number of his associates, including several people intimately involved in the Daniel Morgan case and its aftermath - Fillery was involved in the first, compromised, Police Inquiry into the case - is strong.
The Panorama exposé of Mahmood’s activities should help anyone not yet up to speed on his modus operandi, and the kinds of people who got stung as a result of his set-ups, such as former actor John Alford, whose career was all but extinguished by his encounter with the Fake Sheikh. One cannot envy those at the CPS who have to make the decision whether to go ahead and open this particular Pandora’s Box.
Especially as there may still be vested interests who would rather it remain closed.