'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood jailed over collapsed Tulisa case

Undercover journalist was found guilty last month of tampering with evidence

'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood jailed over collapsed Tulisa case

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police

'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 and his driver Alan Smith, 67, guilty of plotting to pervert the course of justice.

Judge Gerald Gordon 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.

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.

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

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.

Mahmood had been a journalist since his teenage years and his career had not just been characterised by entertainment, the lawyer said in mitigation.

News UK response

Immediately after the sentence, News UK announced that Mahmood had been sacked.

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

"Mazher was suspended after the Tulisa Contostavlos trial collapsed, pending an internal inquiry. That inquiry was superseded by the criminal process.

"Mazher has led scores of successful investigations during his 25-year career with the company. His work has led to the exposure of criminality and wrongdoing. It is a source of great regret that his time with the company should end in this manner.

"The previous criminal cases that have resulted from his investigations were tested by the courts or guilty pleas were entered.

"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."