'Fake Sheikh' suspended after singer Tulisa Contostavlos drug trial collapses
Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid The Sun suspended an investigative reporter nicknamed the "Fake Sheikh" yesterday after a pop star's drugs trial collapsed amid claims that the journalist lied in court.
The trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos, who was accused of offering to procure cocaine for reporter Mazher Mahmood, was dismissed by a judge at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Mahmood rose to prominence on News of The World, the tabloid Murdoch shut down in 2011 after revelations of phone-hacking. He moved to its sister paper The Sun after its closure.
Contostavlos, 26, called on police to investigate the "horrific and disgusting entrapment" by the reporter, whose use of false identities to investigate well-known UK figures earned him the "Fake Sheikh" nickname.
Mahmood had posed as a wealthy film producer offering former talent show judge Contostavlos a major role in a Bollywood film. The pair had several meetings, which were secretly recorded by Mahmood. He claimed the singer boasted of being able to supply him with cocaine at one meeting.
But judge Alistair McCreath said the case had to be halted because there were "strong grounds to believe" Mahmood lied at a hearing before the trial started.
The prosecution of the singer's co-defendant, who had already pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine, was also dismissed.