Fake Sheikh in Sham Home Office Agent Claims
By Graham Johnson
Byline Head of Investigations
SUN reporter Mazher Mahmood impersonated a Home Office official to bully immigrants, according to a former colleague.
The Fake Sheikh threatened to ‘deport’ victims if they didn’t help him stand-up stories.
The claim is made by a former aide of the ‘King of Sting’ - and corroborated by two ex-colleagues.
The sources allege that the controversial investigator disguised himself as a UK Immigration Service officer on at least two occasions.
But a former News International executive said that Mahmood boasted about his bogus officialdom ‘many times' - and even bragged that some in his entourage had posed as police officers.
Mahmood boasted about his bogus officialdom ‘many times' - and even bragged that some in his entourage had posed as police officers.
The revelations come after Mahmood was convicted of perverting the course of justice at the Old Bailey.
Mahmood, 53, was found guilty of conspiring with his driver Alan Smith, 67, to change an important witness statement in the 2014 ‘Tulisa cocaine trial.’ The jury returned a unanimous verdict and the pair will be sentenced on 21 October.
Mahmood’s controversial behaviour did not come as a surprise to others he worked with during his 35 years on Fleet Street.
Impersonating Law Enforcement
Former News of the World freelancer Christine Hart claims that she witnessed Mahmood threatening to arrest a Pakistani man if he didn’t cooperate with a story. A similar allegation has been made by a second source, who says he watched Mahmood stage a fake Home Office raid on unsuspecting foreigners.
“Don’t ever do that again, Maz – it’s wrong and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal."
Hart recalled how the former News of the World reporter coerced a foreign ‘student’ into supplying him with information by pretending to be a law enforcement officer.
Ms. Hart, who lives West London, said: ‘Maz shocked me as he announced to his mark, a Pakistani, that he was from “Immigration.”
‘He wanted some information about crime… and he (The Pakistani man) had to tell him… or he’d be carted back to Pakistan.’
Hart, who been recruited by Mahmood as an undercover investigator, knew that impersonating a government official was “wrong.”
She added: ‘It happened in Kensington, West London. I sat in the back of the car listening, and when the man went, I spoke to Maz angrily.
“Don’t ever do that again, Maz – it’s wrong and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal.”'
“And was it fair to scare that guy so much just to get info?”
However, Mahmood dismissed Hart’s concerns, telling the experienced Private Detective that she would ‘do well to mind your own fucking business.’
Fixing the Evidence
Mahmood entrapped pop singer Tulisa Contostavlos, 28, into arranging a cocaine deal via a pal for the Sun on Sunday. The front page story was published on June 2 2013, after which the paper handed over evidence to the authorities.
However, the 2014 trial against Contostavlos collapsed after Judge Alistair McCreath told Southwark Crown Court he thought prosecution witness Mahmood had lied in giving evidence.
During a pre-trial hearing in June 2014, Mahmood said on oath that he had not spoken to Alan Smith about comments in the chauffeur’s statement.
When later giving evidence to the jury, Mahmood admitted he had been emailed a copy of Smith's statement and the trial was abandoned.
Mahmood had tricked the former X-factor judge by posing as a Bollywood producer to lure her into trap.
But one of his old contacts told Byline Investigations that Mahmood liked to disguise himself a member of the Immigration Service.
Using his trumped-up ‘legal’ powers, he claims Mahmood orchestrated a phoney Immigration Service raid on a flat containing Asian men.
Mahmood was wearing a dark blue Royal Navy surplus woollen jumper with epaulettes and shoulder patches
Mahmood barked orders at the immigrants and pulled over a wardrobe to scare them into thinking it was a real Home Office bust, the ex-News of the World journalist says.
The source said: "‘Mahmood was wearing a dark blue Royal Navy surplus woollen jumper with epaulettes and shoulder patches - it was similar to the uniform that the Immigration Service wore at the time.
‘It was at a block of flats in South London. He practically knocked down the door to get the people inside to let him in. Once inside, Mahmood went into one - screaming and shouting at the Asians.
‘He was bullying them to get them to handover their passports, which he wanted as evidence for a story. He said he was from the Immigration Service. He turned the place over, pulling a wardrobe down onto the floor.
‘The four or five fellers in the flat shit themselves. He got their passports and took them back to the office in Wapping, to the news desk at the News of the World.’
The United Kingdom Immigration Service is a forerunner of today’s UK Border Agency. In the late 90s, the service was the operational arm of the Home Office, Immigration and Nationality Directorate.
The UK Immigration Service was was disbanded in 2007. Immigration Service staff were re-deployed within the short lived Border and Immigration Agency
Impersonating a police officer or customs’ agent is illegal.
Impersonating a government official can be unlawful.
The seriousness of the crime depends on how the fraud is exploited and what offences the suspect commits using the cover.
Christine Hart has written a first-person account of the stories that she investigated with Mahmood which will be published on Byline.
Byline Investigations put the allegations to Dylan Sharpe, the press officer at The Sun newspaper at 1.18 pm on October 5th.
He has not responded yet.