'Fake Sheikh' Mahmood jailed over Tulisa case

'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood has been jailed for tampering with evidence in the collapsed drugs trial of Tulisa Contostavlos.

It follows a two-week trial that found the 54-year-old journalist and his driver Alan Smith, 67, guilty of plotting to pervert the course of justice.

The judge jailed Mahmood - dubbed the "King of the Sting" - for 15 months, saying that while he accepted he had done "some good work" in his long career, there could be no justification for what he had done and custody was inevitable.

News UK, publishers of The Sun On Sunday where Mahmood worked, said he has been sacked.

Smith was given 12 months suspended for two years, saying he had been motivated in part by "misguided loyalty".

As Mahmood was jailed, someone in the public gallery shouted "your turn now Mazher" to the journalist, who claims to have helped in the convictions of 100 criminals during his 25 years of investigative reporting.

The Old Bailey heard Mahmood posed as a film producer to meet Contostavlos at a London hotel and pretended to be keen to discuss a role for her acting alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.

In May 2013, Contostavlos had allegedly arranged for one of her contacts to sell Mahmood half an ounce of cocaine for £800.

But the N-Dubz star's case was thrown out after it turned out that Smith had changed his original police statement to omit comments she allegedly made expressing disapproval of hard drugs.

As Smith drove her home after the meeting with Mahmood, the court was told she had allegedly said she had a family member with a drug problem.

The anti-drug comments were a problem for the Fake Sheikh's report, the Old Bailey heard, and were "airbrushed out" when Smith emailed his statement to Mahmood.

Following the guilty verdicts last month, it was announced that 18 civil claims were being launched against Mahmood, which could total some £800m.

The Crown Prosecution Service has already dropped a number of live cases and reviewed 25 past convictions.

Six of those involving mainly high-profile individuals have been taken up by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

A spokesman for News UK said: "Following the sentencing of Mazher Mahmood today, News UK can confirm that his employment has been terminated.

"We are aware that the Crown Prosecution Service has reviewed some cases and understand that the Criminal Cases Review Commission is looking at whether a small number of matters should be referred back to the Court of Appeal. 

"We await their decisions.

"We have noted the threats made after Mazher's conviction of civil claims against this company in relation to his previous work. Should such claims be brought, they will be vigorously defended."

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