New ‘lies to Leveson’ accusations for Murdoch as actor takes aim in lawsuit

Support John Alford’s legal case against News UK by donating HERE: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/john-shannon-hacking-case/

  • RUPERT Murdoch’s British newspaper publisher NGN is facing damaging new allegations of criminal activity in a legal action brought by actor John Alford.
  • MR ALFORD says he was illegally entrapped in a drugs sting by former News of the World investigations editor Mazher Mahmood and falsely portrayed as a dealer.
  • NOW detailed claims are emerging about Mahmood’s extensive use of illegal private investigators on his stories – activity he emphatically denied to the Leveson Inquiry into press abuse.
  • AMONG the serious claims are that Mahmood worked with corrupt police officers to illegally access the Police National Computer, as:
  • LORD Paddick calls for the Metropolitan Police Service to investigate the allegations if proven, while:
  • NGN is denying wrongdoing and the case is set for trial at the High Court in London in November – other details can be read here.
Rupert Murdoch attends the 2017 Metropolitan Opera Opening Night at The Metropolitan Opera House on September 25, 2017 in New York City. (Alamy)

By Dan Evans
Founding Editor

RUPERT Murdoch’s feared British tabloid undercover ‘entrapment’ specialist Mazher Mahmood lied repeatedly to a judge about his use of unlawful private investigators, legal documents claim.

New disclosures in a lawsuit at the High Court in London against Mr Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers (NGN) allegedly contradict Mr Mahmood’s repeated denials to the Leveson Inquiry into Press abuse in 2011 that he never used illicit snoopers on stories.

Now, a civil trial in the privacy action of actor John Alford, who claims Mahmood used illegal methods to destroy his life in 2005 with a sting story and ‘malicious’ drugs prosecution, is set to test the serious allegations in November, which could if proven amount to a criminal offence under the UK’s Inquiries Act.

John Alford (Author’s own)

In a document setting out Mr Alford’s case, his lawyers said: ‘The Claimant will contend that Mr Mahmood knew full well that his use of private investigators was unlawful, and that this was his reason for lying to the Leveson Inquiry that he did not use private investigators at all.’

It is a problem for Mahmood and the Murdoch company, which has been dogged by a phone hacking scandal that has cost it some £1bn since 2011 in civil lawsuits and caused the spectacular closure of its 168-year-old tabloid the News of the World in the same year.

Wielding the axe: Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks (Alamy)

Murdoch’s Chief Executive in the UK, Rebekah Brooks, is also named in separate High Court claims against NGN – which her company denies – that she too intentionally misled the Leveson Inquiry, set up in response to revelations of industry-wide illegal newsgathering, with ‘false’ evidence – an offence punishable by up to 51 weeks’ jail under the 2005 Inquiries Act.

Support John Alford’s legal case against News UK by donating HERE: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/john-shannon-hacking-case/

Mr Alford’s formal Particulars of Claim papers, which are on public record, refer to a series of disclosures by NGN of invoices and other material which, they say, show Mahmood commissioned at least eight different private investigators on at least 83 occasions between October 1999 and July 2005.

This is at odds with Mahmood’s evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, both written and oral, on various occasions, including this denial of November 12, 2011, when he said under oath: ‘On private investigators – can I just stress very clearly that I never ever commissioned a private detective to do any work for me. I never paid a private detective… It’s simply not true.’

Mazher Mahmood AKA the ‘Fake Sheikh’

Among the PIs used was a firm called Starbase, which Mahmood is said to have commissioned on at least 35 occasions between January 2000 and October 2002.

Starbase offered a range of unlawful practices to journalists like Mahmood, according to the court papers, including reversing phone numbers to obtain subscriber information, the fraudulent acquisition of itemised phone bills, and voicemail interception.

However, Mahmood is also said to have commissioned the company to carry out a further illegal service – one he specifically addressed with a blunt denial in his Leveson evidence 10 years ago; illegal payments to police officers or public officials.

In a witness statement sworn to the inquiry in 2011, Mahmood said: ‘Other than what is in the public domain, I am not aware and was never told that private investigators were the source of any stories. Neither am I aware of any payments being made to police officers, mobile phone companies or any public officials in order to source stories or information.’

Despite this, one of the Starbase invoices John Alford’s lawyers are attributing to Mahmood contains the reference ‘CRO’ – an acronym, they say, for a criminal records check; a service that cannot be provided legally to journalists.

A screenshot of the undercover footage taken as part of Mahmood’s sting on John Alford.

The High Court document states: ‘This can only have been done by a police employee with access to the PNC [Police National Computer].

‘The Claimant will rely on this in support of the contention that Mr Mahmood lied to the Leveson Inquiry when he said that he was not aware of any payments being made to police officers or public officials.’

But Mr Alford’s detailed case against NGN goes further.

Mahmood, it claims, also used the services of a former police officer, John Ross, even after 2007 when News of the World colleague – Royal Editor Clive Goodman, and another PI Glenn Mulcaire – were sentenced for hacking the phones of the Royal household and others, and NGN was publicly claiming Goodman was a ‘rogue reporter’ acting alone in breaking the law for stories.

Of an invoice from Ross to Mahmood, the Alford case states: ‘The Claimant will rely upon this commission as further proof that Mr Mahmood lied in his sworn witness statement given to the Leveson Inquiry in which he stated that he never paid police officers or public officials.’

Sir Brian Leveson (Alamy)

Among the invoices only disclosed to Mr Alford’s legal team in March 2021, are several they say show NGN had him under illegal surveillance as long ago as 1996, and which they claim the company had tried to withhold ‘in part because they revealed its unlawful conduct in relation to the Claimant’.

These documents, which have been provided by NGN on the orders of the Court, show four payments to the notorious Southern Investigations, a PI company with very close ties to the police. 

In addition, the Alford legal team claims Mahmood used an investigations firm called Metshield, run by another former police officer called Steve Clarke.

The disclosure allegedly shows Mahmood – known as the Fake Sheikh for his elaborate impersonations of Arab Royalty – used Metshield and John Ross on a story in which in 1996 he entrapped former page three model and actress, Emma Morgan, in a drugs sting with parallels to the one Mahmood sprang on Mr Alford.

It also echoes the case of Tulisa Contostavlos, the former N-Dubz singer and X Factor judge, whom Mahmood similarly entrapped in a drugs sting in 2013, only for a subsequent police case against her to be discharged after Mahmood lied in evidence to the judge.

As a result, Mahmood was jailed himself in 2016 for 15 months when he was found to have tampered with witness evidence and conspired to pervert the course of justice.

Last night, former Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner, the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Paddick, who was an influential critic of early failed Scotland Yard investigations into the scandal hacking, called for the allegations of lies to Leveson to be investigated.

Lord Paddick said: ‘If the allegations made by John Alford’s legal team are proven, the police should investigate whether Mr Mahmood and potentially others lied to the Leveson Inquiry, but when you consider the Metropolitan Police’s initial reluctance to fully investigate the hacking scandal, I’m not holding my breath.’

Lord Paddick (Chris McAndrew CC 3.0)

NGN’s does not admit any wrongdoing in respect of Mr Alford and is set to defend itself in court in November. In his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, Mahmood accepted he used PIs ‘on around 20 or so stories’ but said on oath he stopped using them in 1992 or 1993.

Distancing himself from allegations of unlawful PI use, he told the Inquiry: ‘Private investigators were also used by the newspaper, but not by me, to obtain information about subjects of investigations. Again, reporters did not have direct dealings with them, but staff on the news desk would liaise with them.

‘Their work included helping trace people, providing company searches and checking other public records including births, deaths and marriages when they worked as search agents.’

  • The case continues…

Support John Alford’s legal case against News UK by donating HERE: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/john-shannon-hacking-case/

Transparency statement: The author has given a generic witness statement on behalf of the Claimants, setting out evidence which he has been asked to give to assist the court at trial

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