UK undercover reporter charged over pop star's drug trial

29th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

A British undercover reporter famous for a string of tabloid scoops under his assumed "fake sheikh" identity was charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The charge relates to Mazher Mahmood's role in the drugs trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos, a former judge on the British talent show "X-Factor".

Contostavlos denied being involved in supplying cocaine to Mahmood in a case which collapsed in July last year following questions over the reporter's evidence.

It is alleged that Mahmood "misled" the court during the trial in London. He is charged along with another man, Alan Smith, a driver.

"This decision comes after it was alleged that Mr Smith agreed with Mr Mahmood to change his statement to police as part of a trial in July 2014, and that Mr Mahmood then misled the court," Nick Vamos of Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Mahmood spent 25 years as an undercover reporter including working for Rupert Murdoch's now defunct News of The World tabloid.

In a statement issued through his lawyers, Mahmood said he was "disappointed" by the charge.

"I deny the offence. I will vigorously contest it at court. In the meantime I have nothing further to say," he said.

Mahmood's investigative work earned him a Reporter of the Year award at the 1998 British Press Awards.

© 2015 AFP

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