Fake Sheikh will not give evidence in trial over Tulisa drugs case


Fake Sheikh Mazher Mahmood has declined to give evidence in his trial for allegedly tampering with evidence in the case of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos.

Mahmood, 53, and his driver, Alan Smith, 67, are accused over their role in the collapse of the former X Factor judge's drugs case in July 2014.

The Old Bailey has heard that the Sun undercover journalist had a boozy meeting with the singer at the Metropolitan Hotel in London, posing as a film producer keen to discuss a role alongside Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio.

Miss Contostavlos had allegedly arranged for Mahmood to be sold half an ounce of cocaine by one of her contacts for £800 in May 2013.

But the N-Dubz star's trial was thrown out of court 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 Potters Bar in Hertfordshire after the meeting with Mahmood.

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

Mahmood's lawyer, John Kelsey-Fry QC, told jurors that his client would not be going into the witness box.

Trevor Burke QC followed suit and said he would be calling no evidence for Smith.

Prosector Sarah Forshaw QC in her closing speech said: "If they were innocent men with nothing to hide, wouldn't they be shouting it from the rooftops?"

Ms Forshaw told jurors: "When you put them all together, they altogether lead you to the compelling inference that these two men put their heads together to change that statement - a compelling inference that demands an explanation and you have had none."

The lawyer suggested that Mahmood had wanted to "show off" to his employers and prove that he "deserved the title of King of the Sting".

The lawyer went on to say that Mahmood's methods had been put on trial over the question of entrapment.

Pre-trial legal argument risked him being "exposed" as a "trickster" rather than the "swashbuckling hero" he wanted to be, she said.

Smith's initial statement to police which included the pop star's anti-drugs comments had posed a problem for the journalist, the court heard.

And so Miss Contostavlos's disapproval of hard drugs was "airbrushed out" after Smith emailed his statement to Mahmood, Ms Forshaw said.

She added: "You may think these men have concluded their best chance of being found not guilty is to say nothing."