After Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, got guilty for lying to the judge in the Tulisa trial, and was subsequently sent down for a stretch in Belmarsh prison - a place where more than one of his victims had ended up in the past - one might have expected that there would be intense media coverage of all those damages claims, and all the convictions that those who suffered them are seeking to overturn.
This, after all, is meat and drink to the press, or so it might be thought: dodgy so-called investigative journalist sullies the good name of his profession, effectively entraps and/or fits up his targets, invents events that never happened (“dirty bomb” plot and Victoria Beckham kidnapping being two examples), lies in order to secure convictions, and is caught on camera laughing off the prospect of ruining careers and reputations.
The Police might be thought to want to give Maz the proverbial good kicking too, having been involved in many of Maz’ operations and now shown up to have been aiding and abetting a common criminal. What better way to rebut allegations of corruption than to hang the Fake Sheikh out to dry? Yet all that we have had since Maz got guilty was the Murdoch mafiosi sacking him. After all, he did get caught.
Why has everyone gone silent? Ah well. There are good reasons for some of those involved to keep schtum and hope it all blows over. There is, for starters, Maz’ relationship with Southern Investigations, the firm in which Daniel Morgan was a partner until he was found with an axe in his head in a south London car park. Jonathan Rees, Morgan’s business partner, had been suspected of involvement in the murder.
Rees and his later partner Sid Fillery ran a number of bent Police officers (Fillery had been involved as a cop with the first Daniel Morgan investigation; his conduct was widely regarded as inept). The murder has recently been the subject of a Panel Investigation and an extensive podcast series, Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder, has been produced under the aegis of my good friend Peter Jukes (see it HERE).
Southern Investigations also worked with hacks from the late and not at all lamented Screws, this being exposed when the two were discovered to have collaborated in the less than subtle surveillance of Dave Cook and his then wife Jacqui Hames, after Cook was put in charge of another of the investigations into … the Daniel Morgan murder.
So now you can see why the cops and the Murdoch empire would rather not have Mazher Mahmood investigated too enthusiastically - because it might make them look even worse. As to the remainder of the Fourth Estate, although the Guardian has covered Maz’ creative reinterpretation of the term “journalism” extensively, most of the rest would rather participate in the unstated but clear imposition of Omertà by Don Rupioni and his pals.
It will be left to the lawyers pursuing those damages claims and looking to overturn convictions, and those in the media who have not yet sold out on their principles, to keep prising open the door on Maz and his dodgy dealings. Once again, most of our free and fearless press are absent elsewhere when the going becomes uncomfortable for them.