'Fake Sheikh' prosecution flawed, defence lawyer says

Court sketch of Mazher Mahmood and Alan Smith
Image caption Mazher Mahmood and Alan Smith both deny intending to pervert the course of justice

Undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood had no reason to tamper with a statement in the collapsed drug trial of pop singer Tulisa Contostavlos, a court has heard.

His lawyer told the Old Bailey the case against the journalist known as the Fake Sheikh was "fundamentally flawed".

Mr Mahmood and his driver Alan Smith deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice in 2014.

Former X Factor judge Miss Contostavlos had been accused of supplying drugs but the case was thrown out of court.

Mr Mahmood, 53, of Purley, south London, is accused of arranging to alter a written statement Mr Smith, 67, from Dereham, Norfolk, made to police because it was favourable to Miss Contostavlos's defence.

Both defendants have declined to give evidence in the case.

But in his closing speech, Mr Mahmood's barrister, rejected the prosecution argument that anti-drugs comments Miss Contostavlos was said to have made to Mr Smith would have stopped her trial "in its tracks".

John Kelsey-Fry QC, said his client would have been aware that it would not have been sufficient to "undermine the clear and incontrovertible evidence" he gathered for the 2013 Sun on Sunday story.

He said the prosecution case was "illogical and defies common sense".

The trial continues.

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