‘Fake Sheikh’ reporter and Norfolk driver in court over Tulisa drugs trial
- Credit: PA
The undercover reporter known as the Fake Sheikh has appeared in court charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Mazher Mahmood, 52, is alleged to have misled the court during the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos.
The former News Of The World journalist appeared in the dock for a brief five-minute hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London.
He arrived hidden behind an umbrella and flanked by a number of men, as he was angrily confronted by a man in a motorcycle helmet.
Dressed in black, with a hooded jacket, and wearing glasses, Mahmood spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.
He sat in the dock with Alan Smith, 66, a retired driver from Dereham, Norfolk, who is charged with the same offence.
The charge states that between June 22 2014 and July 22 2014, Mahmood and Smith conspired together to do an act, namely that Smith would change a draft statement to police, with the intention to pervert the course of justice.
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Lawyers for both men indicated they would plead not guilty as the case was sent to Southwark Crown Court in London for a hearing on December 3.
Mahmood, of Purley, Surrey, and Smith were released on unconditional bail.
The case was due to be heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court last month but was adjourned on 'health grounds', a court official said.
Ms Contostavlos, 27, went on trial after allegedly brokering a cocaine deal which featured in an expose in The Sun On Sunday following an investigation by Mahmood.
The former N-Dubz star and X Factor judge denied a charge of being concerned with the supply of class A drugs before a judge threw out the case at Southwark Crown Court in July last year.
Ms Contostavlos's rapper friend Mike GLC was also cleared, despite admitting supplying half an ounce (13.9g) of the drug.
Mahmood spent 25 years as an undercover reporter and claimed to have helped put more than 100 criminals behind bars.
News UK, which publishes The Sun, has said that Mahmood remains suspended from the newspaper.
Mahmood covered his face with his hood and made no comment as he left court flanked by four men.