Football match-fixing prosecutions dropped because of evidence from Sun's Mazher Mahmood

Prosecutors have dropped the case against 13 footballers investigated over alleged match-fixing after considering the reliability of evidence from journalist Mazher Mahmood.

The players were investigated as a result of an investigation by Mahmood for The Sun on Sunday in December 2013.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was "insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction" in the case in light of the collapse of Tulisa Contostavlos's trial.

The former X Factor judge was cleared of brokering a cocaine deal in July last year following a newspaper sting led by Mahmood, after Judge Alistair McCreath said there were "strong grounds" to believe The Sun On Sunday reporter lied in the witness box.

Contostavlos's rapper friend Mike GLC – real name Michael Coombs – was also cleared after he pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine.

A CPS spokeswoman said: "A file was passed to the CPS in July 2014 from the National Crime Agency (NCA) in relation to alleged football match-fixing in 2013. This case involved evidence in relation to 13 suspects.

"The reliability of the evidence of one alleged witness in particular had to be very carefully considered in light of recent events in the trial of R – v – Contostavlos and Coombs.

"This was not the only evidence that was considered and when all the evidence submitted by investigators was carefully reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

"We have informed the NCA of this decision and they have written to the suspects announcing that no further action will be taken."

The 13 footballers were arrested as part of an investigation into alleged bribery and money laundering, the NCA said.

In April, seven players from Football League clubs based in the north west of England were arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing and another six were re-arrested over the claims.

The original six suspects were arrested as part of the inquiry in December 2013, prompted by information passed on by the Sun on Sunday.

Last month, the CPS said it was re-examining criminal convictions in 25 cases in which Mahmood had given evidence and had offered no evidence in three live cases where the undercover reporter was a prosecution witness.

Mahmood, a former reporter for the News of the World, was suspended by the Sun on Sunday after the collapse of Contostavlos's trial.

In September, several trials at Southwark Crown Court in London were halted because they relied on evidence from the undercover reporter.

The CPS offered no evidence against Dr Majeed Ridha and pharmacist Murtaza Gulamhusein, who were accused of illegally supplying an abortion drug.

Fixer to the stars Leon "Starino" Anderson and co-defendant Ashley Gordon, 21, had drugs charges dismissed after prosecutors said Mahmood was not reliable.

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