Dereham driver and the ‘Fake Sheikh’ appear in court over collapsed Tulisa trial

Driver Alan Smith leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Driver Alan Smith leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The undercover reporter known as the 'Fake Sheikh' and his former driver from Dereham today denied perverting the course of justice over the collapsed drugs trial of former X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos.

Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos. Photo: Justin Tallis/PA Wire

Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos. Photo: Justin Tallis/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Mazher Mahmood, 52, arrived at the Old Bailey in a silver Lexus and walked into court flanked by four bodyguards, with the hood of his black waterproof coat pulled down to conceal his face.

When called to give evidence in previous trials, the master of disguise was allowed to give evidence from behind a screen.

But today he appeared in open court wearing his coat over a black pinstriped suit, blue shirt and tie, alongside former driver Alan Smith, 66, from Dereham, dressed in black coat over a smart white shirt and red tie.

They spoke only to confirm their names and answer 'not guilty' to a single charge of conspiring to pervert the course.

The charge states the pair conspired together for Smith to 'change the content of a draft statement to the police, with intent to pervert the course of justice' between 22 June and 22 July 2014.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, the Recorder of London, set a trial date for 19 September.

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Prosecutor Sarah Foreshaw QC said the trial is expected to last two weeks.

Mahmood managed to keep his identity under wraps for years, making a name for himself breaking exclusive stories such as the Pakistani cricket match-fixing scandal.

He set up a sting to expose Tulisa's alleged drug use in 2013 by posing as a wealthy Bollywood filmmaker interested in casting her in an upcoming movie.

Tulisa was alleged to have arranged to have half an ounce of cocaine delivered to Mahmood by rapper Mike GLC in May 2013.

But the resulting trial at Southwark Crown Court collapsed amid allegations Mahmood had pressured Smith into changing key evidence.

Mahmood, of Brighton Road, Purley, Surrey, and Smith of Daffodil Way, Dereham, Norfolk, deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice and are on unconditional bail.

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