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Tuesday 18 August 2015

Fake Sheikh Shoots The Murdoch Fox

The press has begun to catch up with Zelo Street: after this blog revealed last month that the Court of Appeal is to hear six cases, all of which involve “stings” perpetrated by Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, including those of actor John Alford, whose career was ruined by his drugs conviction, boxer Herbie Hide, and professional prankster Alex Smith, Roy Greenslade at the Guardian has given the case his attention.
He notes “A lawyer acting for the six, Siobhain Egan, argues in the preliminary grounds for appeal that there are ‘serious concerns’ over the safety of their convictions. According to the papers sent to the court of appeal the ‘common thread’ to all six cases concerns Mahmood’s integrity as a witness. There are also references to his methodology and his concealment of alleged sources under journalistic privilege”.

Those concerns come in the wake of the Tulisa Contostavlos case, where the judge halted proceedings after concluding that there were strong grounds for suspecting that Mahmood had lied to him. Indeed, the transcript of the cross-examination of Maz in that case shows that he wobbled badly at times, being caught out (for instance) making claims about who said what to whom even when he was not present when the exchanges took place.

But what Greenslade does not tell is that, during that cross-examination, Maz and his pals claimed to Ms Contostavlos that they were from 21st Century Fox, while they were spinning her the tale that she was being lined up for a lead role in a film opposite Leonardo di Caprio. 21st Century Fox is the successor firm to News Corporation: it holds all the Murdoch empire’s interests except for print media.

Maz was asked during his cross-examination by Ms Contostavlos’ barrister whether the mention of 21st Century Fox was a coincidence. Before he agreed that it was, there was a most revealing moment, as he told his inquisitor “as I said to you, for […] to phone up, and say I’m calling from 21st Century Fox, it would take two seconds to rumble her. I mean, it’s plain stupid … I mean, that’s an elementary mistake”.

It was almost as if Mahmood were trying a little too hard to head off any suggestion that anyone at 21st Century Fox could be party to the sting. Why that is important needs to be spelt out: that part of the Murdoch empire in 21st Century Fox was put there to separate it from the print titles - and, by inference at least - to keep it well away from the repercussions from any less than totally ethical behaviour there.

Were there to have been participation by anyone at 21st Century Fox in Mahmood’s stings, the fallout for the Murdoch empire could be seriously damaging. It’s bad enough having a print operation in the UK that is perceived as having Mafiosi tendencies; to find that the bad behaviour went further would be, shall we say, seriously detrimental to business. That is another reason to watch the upcoming appeals closely.

Meanwhile, Maz is still having his legal costs paid by News UK.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Mahmood is found guilty and ends up in the shower with Sweet Pants of Norf Lahndan.....

I'll laugh my socks down.

The only funnier thing would be Rupe or Jimmy Boy or MacKenzie or Kavanagh bending over for the soap. Or maybe Brooks fending off Big Bertha in the prison laundry.

God knows they've got it coming.