Mazher Mahmood using private eye to target Tom Watson during Parliamentary Inquiry into Phone Hacking

The final edition of News of the World, publis...

The final edition of News of the World, published on 10 July 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another anomaly from Mazher Mahmood‘s evidence at the Leveson inquiry that he never employed a private detective after his extensive work with Southern Investigations in the 90s.

This is from 2009 when Tom Watson was asking questions as a member of the DCMS select committee about News of the World phone hacking

Right up unto 2009, while at News of the World,  Mahmood commissioned a private investigator to stalk Tom Watson MP at a Labour Party conference.

Watson told the Leveson Inquiry that Mahmood – known as the ‘Fake Sheikh – hired Derek Webb to trail him in 2009, to establish whether he was having an affair.

Watson was then a prominent member of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee examining phone hacking at the News of the World. He claimed that  News International had a vendetta against him after he spoke out against the company.

Webb – a former police officer and nicknamed ‘the silent shadow’ – followed Watson and another Labour MP for seven days during the Brighton conference, billing News of the World in excess of a £1000 for his services.

(Around the same time Webb was also surveilling key lawyers in the phone hacking scandal – Charlotte Harris and Mark Lewis)

An email exchange published by the Independent on Sunday with Ian Edmondson and James Mellor , show that Mahmood was the source of the erroneous tip off.

Was this abortive investigation in the public interest or part of the task of the free press to expose corruption?

Or was it – like the legal moves involving the Attorney General and the Panorama expose of the Fake Sheikh – a politicized  attempt to intimidate and silence critics through character assassination?

Read the emails below and come to your own conclusion:

Continue reading

Mulcaire, Miskiw, Mahmood and the Special Investigations Unit set up by Rebekah Brooks at News of the World

Before Panorama airs at 7.30 tonight, after two delays, it might be worth looking at the background of MazHer Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, at News of the World under the editorship of Rebekah Brooks, from early 2000 to early 2003.

Mahmood’s activities in the decade leading up to this have been covered in  a previous post about his connections with Southern Investigations. But the problems with that notorious private investigations firm, due to police inquiries and arrests of key personnel around this time, may explain what happened next.

Investigations were taken in house.

One of the first things Brooks did as editor of Britain’s best selling paper was to recall Greg Miskiw from New York, where he had set up office, and form an Investigations Team that worked outside both the Features and News Desk. From various bits of evidence show the floating membership from 2000 onwards to consist of:

Greg Miskiw – head
Neville Thurlbeck – reporter
Sarah Arnold – reporter
Paul McMullan – reporter
Glenn Mulcaire (as reported by Geoff Sweet in the sports pages)
Mazher Mahmood – undercover reporter
Bradley Page – photographer who replaced his father in law Steve Grayson
Conrad Brown – technical and surveillance

Continue reading

Mazher Mahmood exposé will be screened on BBC despite the legal hitch | Media |

James Harding, the corporation’s director of news and current affairs, told the Society of Editors earlier today that it “is a seriously good piece of work, extremely revealing and squarely in the public interest.

“But, he explained, “the worst of all worlds is when you get the big picture right, and trip up over a detail.”So when some information we’d been asking to see for many days was sent to us by Mazher Mahmood’s lawyers at 7 o’clock last night, we, as a responsible broadcaster, had to consider it. We’re looking at it, and we’ll make sense of it as quickly as we can, and then we’ll broadcast it.”

My understanding is that the information concerns just one specific allegation in Fake Sheikh: Exposed. The implications of that new matter provided by Mahmood’s lawyers, Kingsley Napley, are under consideration now.

Whatever the outcome, it is too minor a detail to affect the eventual screening of the documentary in which Panorama’s reporter, John Sweeney, interviews some of Mahmood’s former assistants. They cast light on Mahmood’s journalistic methods during his investigations.

via Mazher Mahmood exposé will be screened on BBC despite the legal hitch | Media |


SIR JOHN STEVENS THE FAKE SHEIK enjoyed exceptionally good relations with Scotland Yard. In 2003 he and then News of the World editor Andy Coulson were invited to the Commissioner's offices at New Photo: PA OF the Metropolitan Police invited Mazher Mahmood and Andy Coulson to his office in Scotland Yard following the CPS decision to abandon charges in the Beckham kidnap affair Photo: PA

 METROPOLITAN POLICE Commissioner from 2000 to 2005, Sir John Stevens— now Lord Stevens — was on good terms with the “Fake Sheik”. In his 2008 autobiography, Mahmood tells the story of how he and then News of the World editor Andy Coulson were invited to have drinks with Stevens at New Scotland Yard in 2003. It was shortly after the Crown Prosecution Service decision to abandon charges in the Beckham kidnap affair because one of Mahmood’s informants was considered an unreliable witness …
Photo: PA


THERE WAS one final piece of information Leveson was not prepared to consider.

This involved Mahmood’s links with a firm of private detectives called Southern Investigations.

One of the partners was a former Metropolitan Police detective sergeant, Sid Fillery.

Fillery had retired and joined Southern Investigations, taking the place of Daniel Morgan, a private detective brutally murdered in 1987.

The other partner was Jonathan Rees, who was arrested several times on suspicion of being involved in the murder.

He was never convicted

However, Rees was gaoled for 7 years in 2000 after he was caught planning a conspiracy with corrupt police detectives to plant drugs on an innocent woman to prove she was an unfit mother.

Fillery was convicted in 2003 of making fifteen indecent images of children.

His computer included photographs of two naked boys engaged in oral sex and another showing the anal penetration of a young girl.

Southern Investigations acted as brokers between corrupt police officers who wanted to sell sensitive information to newspapers, including the News of the World.

In his evidence to Leveson, Mahmood doesn’t name the firm but it appears to be Southern Investigations.He told the Inquiry:

” … I stopped working with them at the end of 1992 or early 1993 …”

However, in our statement we told the Leveson Inquiry we had seen documents seized during anti-corruption inquiries which suggested this also wasn’t true.

These documents revealed that in 1999 Rees and Fillery carried out “confidential inquiries” into “illegal immigration” after receiving a “request” from “Maz Mahmood”.

The invoice for this work, submitted in July 1999, was for £1,488.72 — one of the largest the firm raised in that year.


bellingcat – Mazher Mahmood and the Met – Too Close for Comfort?

There were sea changes at the Metropolian Police Service MPS and at the News of the World NOTW as the 1990s came to a close.

The new MPS Commissioner –  John Stevens – wanted to encourage positive press through a closer relationship with national newspapers. At NOTW a new editor – Rebekah Wade – had been appointed who was keen get headlines for their investigative exposés.

A new millenium needed a new modus operandi.

But there was a problem.  NOTW could no longer use their favourite private detectives, Southern Investigations, as one of its owners had got a lengthy jail sentence for perverting the course of justice.  Southern Investigations had been essential to NOTW, providing video surveillance equipment, bodyguards and customised information gathering.

In 1999, NOTW commissioned Southern to put then Deputy MPS Commissioner John Stevens under surveillance.   This was on an unfounded and untrue tip that he was flying from London to Northumbria to visit a secret mistress.  Whether this surveillance was with a view to publishing a story or whether it was to gain leverage is a contested point. In addition, NOTW may have used Southern investigations to put their own newspaper staff under surveillance

via bellingcat – Mazher Mahmood and the Met – Too Close for Comfort?.

Did Mazher Mahmood mislead Leveson about the Dark Arts of his Past?

With Monday’s BBC1 Panorama documentary set to shed new light into the activities of News of the World‘s most famous reporter, Mazher Mahmood, the Fake Sheikh, it is worth going back over his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

Though Mahmood’s identity was concealed, his witness statements make for some eye opening reading.

image (1)

The ‘particular firm’ Mahmood mentions, used regularly by News of the World executives Greg Miskiw and Alex Marunchak, was none other than Southern Investigations.

Last year a senior police officer told me  that Southern Investigations’ relationship with News of the World,”“was without question the maternity ward where the Dark Arts were born.”

Continue reading


Some background on Maz Mahmood’s claim to have put 253 people behind bars.


TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS                                                              THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood was caught lying in the witness box ...    Photo: PATULISA CONTOSTAVLOS
THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood was caught lying in the witness box …
Photo: PA 

THE COLLAPSE of the Tulisa Contostavlos trial in July is the latest scandal to hit Rupert Murdoch’s prize investigative reporter Mazher Mahmood.

The case against the singer-turned-entertainer was thrown out when the judge said Mahmood — also known as the “Fake Sheik” — lied when he gave evidence to the court.

Now the Metropolitan Police is considering possible perjury charges against the Sun on Sunday reporter.

Lies have been a staple part of Mahmood’s amoral newspaper career — and Press Gang has been at the heart of exposing many of them.

Here we republish an article which first appeared in April 2012.

It tells the story of an unscrupulous journalist who will do anything — including committing perjury in the witness box — to get ahead.



View original post 3,888 more words

More dark arts at the News of the World? Panorama investigate the Fake Sheikh

This is worth definitely curling up at home with the TV, or setting your goggle box to record. As documented by a guest blogger here and on Bellingcat, the News of the World’s foremost investigative reporter may have a lot of questions to answer after the BBC air this documentary next Monday, fronted by the irrepressible John Sweeney, and produced by the inestimable Meirion Jones. Links to other Fothom pieces below the quote

Continue reading

Did Coulson’s News of the World Incite Others to Crime and cause Unsafe Convictions?

More on the Fake Sheikh, the Police, and News of the World by occasional blogger @jpublik. Cross posted at Bellingcat. 

Andy Coulson‘s News of the World sent a man to jail after luring him to sell them drugs he was terrified of carrying by promising him a job. He was sentenced to four years in prison before his conviction – after he’d already served his time.

In a case which has hardly received any publicity, according to high court documents, Albanian Besnik Qema was asked to supply News of the World cocaine and a passport on a promise of job as security for a wealthy Arab family.

The High Court documents detail how in January 2005, Mazher Mahmood had asked Florim Gashi, a contact of his who he had used in previous “set-up” stings to find someone who could be implicated in a story he or the News of the World wanted to run about false passports, drugs and guns. Gashi then adopted the identity of a female called Aurora and through an internet chat room used by expatriate Albanians established contact with Qema.

Continue reading

More News of the World background: Miskiw, Mahmood and the MET

Another piece on News of the World -cross posted from Bellingcat and introduced by Eliot Higgins

Over the past two years my “regular contributor” has written on all things Leveson, phone hacking, and police corruption, with much of their work gathered on the Brown Moses Blog – Hackgate Files.  Now they’ve come to Bellingcat to continue their work, beginning with a look at Mazher Mahmood (aka the Fake Sheikh) and the Metropolitan Police.

Miskiw, Mahmood and the MET

In January 2004, a journalist from the News of the World (NOTW) was interviewed by MET police on suspected criminality resulting from Operation Motorman. It was GREG MISKIW.

Yet just a few weeks later, MET police were enthusiastically commiting to a £1million+ collaboration with the NOTW on a newspaper ‘sting’. This time the journalist was MISKIW’S investigations desk close colleague – MAZHER MAHMOOD.

Continue reading