Third drugs prosecution collapses due to concerns about evidence from Sun's Mazher Mahmood - Press Gazette

Third drugs prosecution collapses due to concerns about evidence from Sun's Mazher Mahmood

A third prosecution has collapsed because of concerns about evidence provided by Sun reporter Mazher Mahmood.

The latest case involves PR man Leon "Starino" Anderson who was arrested after The Sun ran an article claiming that he sold £300 worth of cocaine and MDMA.

Mahmood was said to have received the drugs at the Metropolitan Hotel in London's Old Park Lane on 10 May last year in a "dry run" for his sting against Tulisa Contostavlos.

Just hours later at the same hotel, he picked up drugs in a deal he claimed was set up by former X Factor judge Contostavlos.

Anderson, who was said to be friends with a string of "unsuspecting celebrities" including pop stars Rihanna and Chris Brown, was due to stand trial for supplying drugs. His alleged co-conspirator, Ashley Gordon, 21, was charged with two counts of possessing just over one gramme of cocaine and one gramme of MDMA.

But the case collapsed at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court before Judge Alistair McCreath, who also threw out the case against Contostavlos, after prosecutors said Mahmood was not reliable.

Quinn Hawkins, prosecuting, said: "As My Lord knows, having presided over the Contostavlos case, the position is that Mazher Mahmood gave evidence on two occasions in that case which tended to contradict itself."

Judge McCreath replied: "Just a bit, yes." 

Hawkins added: "The position is that the Crown can no longer rely on Mr Mahmood as a witness of truth in this case, and for that reason, I offer no evidence against Mr Gordon on behalf of the Crown."

Anderson, of Colliers Wood, north London, did not appear in court due to the short notice of the hearing and professional commitments in France.

But the prosecution said the case against him would formally be dropped at a hearing on Friday next week, 3 October.

Dismissing the matter, Judge McCreath told Gordon: "The case against you is over. You are acquitted and free to go."

Outside court, Gordon, of Romford, east London, criticised at the press, saying: "I don't think I have any views on Mazher Mahmood, I would say the media and press in general think they are above the law.

"This court has seen many cases which show they think they are above the law."

Dismissing the case against Ms Contostavlos in July, Judge McCreath  said there were "strong grounds" to believe Mahmood "told me lies" and had been "manipulating the evidence".

The case against her was dropped as was that against Michael Coombs who had pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine.

Mahmood claims to have helped secure more than 90 criminal convictions in a career spanning 30 years.

He was suspended by The Sun following the collapse of the Contostavlos trial.

The cases against doctor Majeed Ridha and pharmacist Murtaza Gulamhusein, who were accused of selling abortion pills, were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service earlier this month.  Mahmood exposed the pair in an investigation for The Sunday Times.



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