Fake Sheikh says court 'was looking for excuse' to drop Tulisa case


Fake Sheikh Mazher Mahmood blamed a court for using him as "an excuse" to drop the drugs case against pop star Tulisa Contostavlos, jurors were told.

Mahmood, 53, and his driver Alan Smith, 67, are on trial at the Old Bailey accused of tampering with evidence in the former X Factor judge's collapsed drugs case in July 2014.

Miss Contostavlos had allegedly arranged for The Sun undercover reporter to be sold half an ounce of cocaine by one of her contacts for £800.

But her case was thrown out after Smith changed his police statement to remove comments she allegedly made expressing disapproval of hard drugs.

She had allegedly said she had a family member with a drug problem as Smith drove her home to Hertfordshire after a boozy meeting with Mahmood at the Metropolitan Hotel in London.

In September 2014, Mahmood attended Charing Cross police station for a pre-arranged interview about the affair, his trial heard.

In a prepared statement to police, Mahmood defended his sting operation as "properly planned and lawful", the court heard.

He said the court had seized on an "apparent discrepancy" as it was "looking for an excuse to drop the case".

He stated: "The operation against Tulisa Contostavlos was properly planned and lawfully undertaken.

"Her co-defendant pleaded guilty and indeed has stated recently that he was amongst a number of people she contacted to buy drugs.

"In my view she had been involved in the unlawful supply of drugs and supplied me drugs in the circumstances where she was under no pressure to do so.

"As such I had no need to invent, suppress or manipulate evidence and did not do so.

"I believe the court was looking for an excuse to drop the case and seized upon an apparent discrepancy without proper analysis.

"By the end of my evidence I had no support from prosecution counsel and was subject to cross examination from the judge."

Mahmood, of Purley, south London, and Smith, from Dereham, Norfolk, deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday next week when the defence case is expected to start.