Last month N Dubz starlet and former X factor judge, Tulisa Contostavlos walked free from court after the judge concluded that the evidence against her was not sufficient enough to deliver a trial. It had been alleged that she had organised a £800 deal to supply class A drugs to undercover reporter, Mazhir Mahmood also known as the ‘Fake Sheikh.’
In 2013, Mahmood disguised himself as a Film Producer and promised the singer a leading role in a Hollywood movie which would also feature Leonardo Di Caprio.
The singer agreed to participate, unaware that she was being ‘set-up’ and was flown around the world in private jets to attend fake ‘meetings’. Mahmood and Tulisa spent numerous times conversing and building one another’s trust- again, Tulisa was unaware that every conversation and meeting was being recorded.
It was during these ‘meet-ups’ that the singer confirmed her ex boyfriend was in fact a drug dealer and that she could supply some “white and green sweets,’ for the Fake Sheikh.
A video was released which showed Tulisa’s friend and former rapper Mike GLC meeting with the Fake Sheikh at The Dorchester Hotel in London in order to provide and sell £800 worth of cocaine.
The singer and her friend were later exposed by Mahmood and later charged for the intent and conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
The case collapsed due to Mahmood’s unreliable evidence – he denied having any conversations regarding a statement with Tulisa’s driver, Alan Smith. However, in court he admitted that a discussion did take place.
Investigative or ‘watchdog’ journalism requires a journalist to spend long periods deeply investigating particular issues based on factual information. John Leslie and Kate Moss are examples of celebrities whose careers have been damaged or enhanced by front page news stories.
According to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Journalists should always,“strive to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed,” and that they should do their “utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies accurate.” However, it appears that a particular tabloid continues to go against the core ethics of this industry.
Whilst working at the News of the World Mahmood broke stories that were associated with fake passports and credit card scams however, he was also involved in uncovering some of the UK’s biggest scandals.
In 2006, MP George Galloway said that Mahmood was an “Agent provocateur,” and a “Disgrace to journalism,” for his participation in the Red Mercury Trial – a sting set up by Mahmood where he alleged that three people were planning to supply terrorists with radio-active bomb making material. The trial collapsed when an officer representing one of the defendants claimed that Mahmood was not a “reliable witness.”
In 2003, Mahmood broke the story of the plot to kidnap the Victoria and David Beckham’s children – again the case collapsed in court as the judge deemed the plot to be a myth. He also lied when giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry – he claimed to have brought more than 250 convictions, but when an investigation was carried out by the Sunday Times it revealed there had only been 94.
Mahmood has provided the newspapers and courts with shocking and most importantly damaging stories with no regard of how his allegations would impact on his victims. Since the case collapsed, Tulisa said she felt Mahmood targeted her because of her ‘social class’. The singer said, “I felt a million emotions. How could I have not seen it? I felt like my life was over.”
Although Mahmood has since been suspended from The Sun on Sunday paper – the replacement for the News of the World – and may face prosecution, it still does not explain why a journalist who was unreliable and manipulative has still been able to work for such a long duration of time. There is no denying that a drug transaction took place, but the fact Mahmood went to drastic lengths to uncover a lie, is disturbing in itself.
The ‘Fake Sheikh,’ fabricated evidence until the truth was unearthed in court – just like his co-worker, Andy Coulson. Although, the Murdoch empire launched the Sun on Sunday last year, the 40% drop in sales still is not enough to stop publication from damaging the reputation of the journalism industry. Only time will tell if it can stand as a paper the nation can eventually learn to trust.
Written by Susie Kellie (Co-founder and Chief Editor of Flock To The Crown)