More trouble ahead for Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper empire. Here’s what the FT reported about the trial of one of its former star performers:
A string of criminal convictions based on undercover investigations by the journalist Mazher Mahmood could be subject to fresh legal appeals after the former News of the World reporter was found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Mahmood (below) — better known as “the Fake Sheikh” — is facing jail after being convicted at the Old Bailey of tampering with evidence in the collapsed trial of the singer Tulisa Contostavlos.
After three days of deliberations the jury also found Mahmood’s driver, Alan Smith, 67, guilty of the same offence. Judge Gerald Gordon adjourned sentencing until October 21 and granted the two men bail.
Following the verdict, the Crown Prosecution Service said it had identified 42 other cases with 72 defendants involving Mahmood. “The decision on whether to take any further legal steps rests solely with the relevant defence team,” the CPS said.
Separately, the Criminal Cases Review Commission confirmed it was considering six applications relating to Mahmood that could lead to past convictions being referred to the Court of Appeal. The CPS said two had already been turned down by the court.
But the fallout from the case may not end there. Mark Lewis, a media lawyer at Seddons Solicitors, said he had been instructed by 18 people to pursue civil claims against Mahmood. “We anticipate the total sums involved could easily reach £800m, with some awards dwarfing those seen in the phone-hacking scandal,” Mr Lewis said in a statement.
Lewis may or may not be right. But this is yet another big scandal, just when the Murdoch empire thought phone hacking had gone away.
Some of us hacks are still somewhat bemused at the way the big cheeses in the New International empire managed to remain out of jail (in some cases to be re-employed) when the minions were banged up for phone hacking.
Is Mahmood prepared to take one for the team?