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  1. Media Law
September 12, 2014

Criminal case against doctor exposed by Sunday Times dropped because of Mazher Mahmood connection

By PA Media Lawyer

The case against a doctor and a pharmacist accused of illegally supplying an abortion drug has been dropped because it relied on evidence from undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood.

Mahmood, known as "the fake sheikh", who is currently suspended from The Sun, came under scrutiny earlier this year with the collapse of the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos for alleged involvement in a drug deal.

On Friday last week, the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence in a separate case – involving Dr Majeed Ridha and pharmacist Murtaza Gulamhusein – because of a connection to Mahmood.

The reporter carried out an undercover investigation for The Sunday Times, and wrote an article claiming that the pair had illegally sold abortion drugs. The case was dropped at Southwark Crown Court.

Mahmood took part in an undercover "sting" involving Contostavlos, posing as a wealthy film producer called Samir Khan, when he met the former X Factor judge at a string of luxury hotels and restaurants.

She consistently denied having boasted that she could "sort out'' cocaine for him and put him in touch with her rapper friend Mike GLC, who allegedly supplied the Class A drug.

During the trial, judge Alistair McCreath ruled that the case could not go any further because there were "strong grounds to believe'' that Mahmood had "lied'' at a hearing before the trial started.

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This was over an account Mahmood gave about whether driver Alan Smith had described Contostavlos talking disapprovingly about drugs.

The case against Contostavlos and her friend, rapper Mike GLC, whose real name is Michael Coombs, was dropped.

Ridha, 65, from Woking in Surrey, had been accused of two counts of encouraging or assisting an offence, while Murtaza Gulamhusein, 55, from Harrow, was charged with one offence under the Human Medicines Regulations and another under the Medicines Act.

A CPS spokesman said: "We have a duty under the Code for Crown Prosecutors to keep cases under continuous review. These cases were re-reviewed following the conclusion of the case of R v Contostavlos and Coombs and the ruling made by HHJ McCreath on 21 July. The outcome of these re-reviews is that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. We have therefore offered no evidence."

During his career, Mahmood has spent 25 years as an undercover reporter with everyone from celebrities to royals caught up in his high profile exposes.

The reporter, known to his colleagues as Maz, claims to have helped put more than 100 criminals behind bars and to have risked his life on a daily basis to lift the lid on the murky world of crime.

Paedophiles, arms dealers and drug dealers have all found themselves at the centre of his stories, as have celebrities and public figures, including the Countess of Wessex, who was taped calling the Queen "the old dear'', and Sven-Goran Eriksson who revealed his plans to quit as England head coach.

Mahmood's reliability was thrown into doubt because of evidence he gave about his driver, Smith, who picked Contostavlos and her friends up from a hotel.

Smith told police he overheard Contostavlos say she "disapproved'' of drugs but later changed his statement after speaking to Mahmood.

The undercover reporter had strongly denied talking to Smith about his statement in pre-trial legal hearings, but at the singer's trial admitted he had spoken to him about his statement.

Judge McCreath said his answers in cross examination were "entirely inconsistent'' with his earlier account.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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