LONDON Oct 5 Mazher Mahmood, one of Britain's
best known undercover reporters renowned for his "fake sheikh"
sting operations, was facing jail on Wednesday after being
convicted of plotting to alter evidence in a high-profile court
case where he was the main witness.
Mahmood, whose elaborate disguises have duped criminals,
celebrities, sporting figures and even royalty, conspired to
alter a police statement during the 2014 drugs prosecution of
Tulisa Contostavlos, a singer and former judge of the British
version of the "X Factor" TV talent show.
Contostavlos was set to go on trial accused of supplying
cocaine for Mahmood while he posed as an influential Indian film
Prosecutors said Mahmood, 53, had conspired with his driver
Alan Smith to alter a statement given to police in which Smith
said Contostavlos had spoken out against drugs on an occasion
when he drove her home.
This would have made her conviction less likely and thus
damage the journalist's reputation as the "king of the sting,"
the prosecution said.
Contostavlos denied the charges against her, citing
entrapment by Mahmood, and the case collapsed in July 2014 after
questions arose about Smith's evidence. Both men were found
guilty at London's Old Bailey criminal court of conspiracy to
pervert the course of justice, the Press Association reported.
He is the latest journalist to have been convicted of
committing a crime while working for media mogul Rupert
Murdoch's British papers following the 2014 conviction of senior
staff at the defunct News of the World tabloid for hacking
messages on mobile phones.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)