This is the first mugshot of Fake Sheikh Mazher Mahmood who has been found guilty of tampering with evidence in the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos.
After a two-week trial at the Old Bailey, a jury found the 53-year-old “King of the Sting” – as well as his driver, Alan Smith, 67 – guilty of plotting to pervert the course of justice.
It was announced after the verdict that 18 civil claims were being launched against Mahmood which could total some £800 million – a figure that would “dwarf” those brought following the phone-hacking scandal, according to media lawyer Mark Lewis.
Contostavlos had been accused of arranging for Mahmood – who made sure to keep his face hidden as he left court – to be sold £800 of cocaine by one of her contacts following an elaborate sting for the Sun on Sunday in May 2013.
They had met at the Metropolitan Hotel in London where Mahmood, who posed as a film producer, discussed a role in a Hollywood film alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
As Smith drove the former X Factor judge home to Hertfordshire, she allegedly spoke about a family member who had a drugs problem.
When he was interviewed by police about the journey more than a year later, Smith recalled the conversation. But a day later – after speaking to Mahmood and emailing his draft statement – the singer’s anti-drugs comments were removed, the court heard.
After her case collapsed in July 2014, Contostavlos claimed to reporters she had been the victim of “a horrific and disgusting entrapment”.
For more than 25 years, Mahmood has enjoyed a position as “King of the Sting” at the now defunct News of the World, Sunday Times and Sun on Sunday, with Smith as his “right-hand man”.
Mahmoud has been suspended by News UK since the collapse of the Tulisa trial.
Neither defendant reacted as the guilty verdicts were delivered. Judge Gerald Gordon adjourned sentencing until October 21 and allowed the defendants continued bail.
Mahmood declined to comment on leaving court.