Mystery of 'resignation' over NoW's gun probe

How the News of the World used Mahmood’s story

News of the World investigations editor Mazher Mahmood stormed out of the office on Saturday night after he heard that the story of his attempt to buy a gun – which had almost cost him his life – was going to make just seven paragraphs at the bottom of a page.

Colleagues said they understood both Mahmood and Conrad Brown, with whom he works, had resigned, and they shared the pair’s anger that in a week when gun crime was dominating the media, the newspaper had used an EastEnders buy-up as its splash.

Mahmood had been assigned by assistant editor Greg Miskiw to buy a gun following the killing of two Birmingham teenagers. He contacted some Yardies and arranged to pick up the gun at a Birmingham park on Friday night.

When he asked to see the gun, it was put to his head and a gang of five men in balaclavas appeared with guns and  machetes. Mahmood and his informant were "given a severe kicking" and just escaped a knifing. They paid the Yardies all the money they had, Press Gazette was told.  Mahmood was telephoned at home on Saturday morning by Miskiw and was again asked to provide a gun. He was put under "intense, intense pressure", Press Gazette was told.

Mahmood rang some of his heaviest contacts and procured a Kalashnikov AK47. On Saturday night he dumped the gun on Miskiw’s desk, made his views known, and left.

He is said to be angry at the poor way investigations are used by the paper while showbiz stories are splashed. One senior journalist said: "I have worked with Maz and Conrad for several years and I know how hard they work and the risks they take, and the disbelief when top investigations are not printed in favour of silly TV buy-ups." But on Tuesday, Mahmood was back at work and both he and managing editor Stuart Kuttner denied he had quit.

Kuttner said: "Mazher had a difficult working week.  Going out onto the streets of Birmingham in the aftermath of that appalling double murder and checking out how these gangs come by their guns is not an assignment many reporters would want. Nevertheless, Mazher Mahmood, who is one of the bravest and most resourceful reporters, was readily prepared to do so. He succeeded in buying not a little pocket gun, but an AK47, which is a lethal automatic weapon. He has not resigned."

Mahmood said: "I am still here – back on the streets later – and the villains had better look out."

By Jean Morgan

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