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October 24, 2016

‘Overwhelmingly clear’ need for Leveson Part Two in wake of Mazher Mahmood jailing, says Hacked Off

By PA Media Lawyer

The jailing of Mazher Mahmood has led to calls for the revival of an inquiry into the relationship between police and the press.

The 53-year-old “King of the Sting” was given a 15-month jail term for having tampered with evidence in the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos.

Campaign group Hacked Off, formed in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, said the need for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry was “overwhelmingly clear”.

The first phase of the inqiry, called by ex-prime minister David Cameron following allegations of

phone-hacking at the News of the World, reported in 2012 and examined the culture, practice and ethics of the press.

Part two is expected to investigate law-breaking and improper conduct within media organisations, the original police investigation into phone-hacking and whether police were complicit in misconduct.

But it was put on hold until criminal proceedings ended, amid fears from hacking victims and Labour MPs that the Government was not committed to it.

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Last month, culture secretary Karen Bradley said: “I can assure you that this is not being kicked into the long grass.”

Dr Evan Harris, joint executive director of Hacked Off, said: “Red flags were raised about the reliability of Mazher Mahmood’s stings over decades, but the police ignored them.

“Given the number of appeals against convictions that the Metropolitan Police Service and Crown Prosecution Service secured on the basis of the evidence of this convicted liar, the need for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry – which would include looking at the relationship between the press and the police – is overwhelmingly clear.”

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said: “Criminal investigations relating to the Leveson Inquiry have not yet completed and we have always been clear that the conclusion of these cases must take place before we consider part two of the inquiry.”

Mahmood’s driver, Alan Smith, was also found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and was handed a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

Picture: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

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