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Wednesday 30 September 2015

Fake Sheikh In The Dock

After considering the file of evidence submitted to them by the Metropolitan Police at the beginning of June, the CPS yesterday announced that it was charging Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, along with his driver Alan Smith, with conspiring to pervert the course of justice. This follows from the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos last year, which collapsed after the judge threw out the prosecution case.
Mazher Mahmood

The CPS explained “After carefully considering all of the evidence the CPS has decided that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to charge both men. This decision comes after it was alleged that Mr Smith agreed with Mr Mahmood to change his statement to police as part of a trial in July 2014, and that Mr Mahmood then misled the court”. Maz’ court date is at the end of next month.

Mahmood responded with a statement through his lawyers: “I am deeply disappointed that, after a totally unjustified delay, the Crown Prosecution Service have today informed me that they have decided to charge me with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. I deny the offence. I will vigorously contest it at court. In the meantime I have nothing further to say”. We should also be mindful of contempt laws.

That much was routine: the interesting part was seeing which papers decided to report the news, and which did not. There were detailed accounts in the Guardian, Independent, Telegraph, Mirror, Evening Standard, and the decision to charge was covered by the BBC and Sky News (“first for breaking wind”). Online-only news sources have also covered the decision. So who has been keeping schtum?

Interestingly, both the Mail and the Express have, as far as is known, said nothing. But, all too predictably, radio silence is being maintained most rigorously at the Baby Shard bunker: there is nothing about the story in the Murdoch Sun, nor even the supposedly more upmarket Times. Nor has there been any coverage by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog.

That may be not unconnected to the Fawkes folks having a regular berth at the Sun on Sunday, a source of good money which Staines dare not endanger. And he also dare not incur the wrath of Don Rupioni. So if the Murdoch line is to keep schtum, The Great Guido, freedom promoting libertarian extraordinaire, will do as he’s bloody well told.

What will also be interesting to see is just how far the Murdoch empire is prepared to go to support Mazher Mahmood. Will we see the same phalanx of lawyers that attended the Hacking Trial? Only then will we know just how valuable the Fake Sheikh has been, and continues to be, to Creepy Uncle Rupe.

In the meantime, remember what the man from the CPS said: “both Mr Mahmood and Mr Smith have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings”. Everyone deserves a fair trial. Let’s make sure he has one.


rob said...

I don't suppose they would have much room to spare to report this given the space required they need to report the ongoing trial of Pyatt and Pharo with all those lurid details of the conduct of a former editor in chief?

They are reporting it aren't they? Didn't they supply most of the evidence against the accused?

DBC said...

There is a small report in my edition of today's Times on page 14.

Arnold said...

"both Mr Mahmood and Mr Smith have a right to a fair trial." As did the victims of his stings.

Anonymous said...

He is of course innocent until found guilty.

But in the possible event of the latter, I hope he has a quick introduction to Sweet Pants in the shower. It might help his memory.

Unknown said...

Do you suppose that that nice Mr. Murdoch will pay for his defence as he did for Rebekah?

Anonymous said...

The Sun had a small report in at least one edition and the Daily Star had a fair-sized one. Big pic of Tulisa

Further to your point about legal fees, the Indie said News UK wouldn't confirm or deny that it was footing the bill.