The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Drug trial of ex-'X Factor' judge collapses over claim reporter known as 'Fake Sheik' lied

  • Print
British singer Tulisa Contostavlos delivers a statement after her trial over drugs allegations collapsed, outside Southwark Crown Court, London, Monday, July 21, 2014. The drug trial of Contostavlos collapsed after the judge said an undercover reporter known as the

Enlarge Image

British singer Tulisa Contostavlos delivers a statement after her trial over drugs allegations collapsed, outside Southwark Crown Court, London, Monday, July 21, 2014. The drug trial of Contostavlos collapsed after the judge said an undercover reporter known as the "Fake Sheikh" probably lied under oath. The Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun on Sunday tabloid reported last year that it had caught singer and TV talent-show judge Tulisa Contostavlos acting as a go-between in a deal to sell cocaine to a reporter posing as a wealthy film producer. (AP Photo/PA, Justin Tallis) UNITED KINGDOM OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE

LONDON - The drug trial of a former British "X Factor" judge collapsed on Monday after the judge said the star prosecution witness, an undercover reporter known as the "Fake Sheik," had lied under oath.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun on Sunday tabloid reported last year it had caught Tulisa Contostavlos acting as go-between in a deal to sell cocaine to a reporter posing as a film producer.

The scoop was the work of Mazher Mahmood, a journalist famed for pulling off undercover stings while disguised as a wealthy Arab businessman.

Contostavlos was charged with supplying drugs, but judge Alistair McCreath stopped her trial Monday, saying there were "strong grounds to believe" Mahmood had lied in court.

The judge said a chauffeur named Alan Smith had been expected to testify that Contostavlos had told him she disapproved of drugs — "but after (a) conversation with Mr. Mahmood, he had changed his mind." At a pre-trial hearing, Mahmood denied speaking to Smith about the issue.

McCreath formally acquitted Contostavlos, who had pleaded not guilty, and co-accused Michael Coombs, also known as rapper Mike GLC.

Contostavlos, 26, gained fame as part of London music group N-Dubz before a stint as a judge on TV talent show "The X Factor."

Outside court, Contostavlos accused Mahmood of "horrific and disgusting entrapment." She said she had believed she was auditioning for a role in a major movie, with Leonardo DiCaprio as a potential co-star.

"Mahmood got me and my team completely intoxicated and persuaded me to act the part of a bad, rough, ghetto girl," she said. "They recorded this and produced this as evidence when I thought it was an audition."

The Sun said Mahmood had been suspended pending an internal investigation.

Mahmood became famous — and feared — for celeb-trapping stings during a long career at the now-defunct News of the World. His targets have included ex-England football coach Sven Goran Eriksson, Princess Michael of Kent and Prince Edward's wife, the Countess of Wessex.

The reporter, who gave evidence at the trial from behind a screen to protect his identity, claims to have helped put more than 100 criminals behind bars. But some of his exposes have ended in disarray. In 2002 Mahmood claimed to have foiled a plot to kidnap former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham. Five men were charged, but the trial collapsed when it became clear Mahmood's main informant had been paid $18,500 and could not be considered a reliable witness.

The informant, Florim Gashi, testified that the kidnap "plot" had been invented by Mahmood.

Questions about Mahmood's methods long tainted the News of the World — but it was the revelation that others at the tabloid had illegally hacked phones to get scoops that led Murdoch to shut down the newspaper in 2011.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Willy wants to get back to winning

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.
  • May 22, 2012 - 120522  - Westminster United Church photographed Tuesday May 22, 2012 .  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Jets' three pre-season losses in a row are a sign of things to come?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google