March 3 2015 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Former world heavyweight boxing champion Herbie Hide is set to appeal his conviction for conspiracy to supply class A drugs after the collapse of the trial of TV star Tulisa Contostavlos.
The former two-time heavyweight champion of the world had denied the offence, which happened between January 29 and February 2 last year, but dramatically changed his plea at the start of his trial last year.
Hide had been arrested after being filmed by undercover Sun newspaper reporters, including Mazher Mahmood, dubbed the “Fake Sheik”, who were seeking to expose that he was prepared to fix fights for money.
The 43-year-old Norwich boxer, who admitted the offence on the basis he was “entrapped”, was jailed for 22 months in November last year but the sentence was later cut by four months by judges at the Court of Appeal after lawyers for Hide argued that the original sentence was too long.
Now Hide’s legal team are planning appeal the conviction after singer and former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos’s trial over drugs allegations collapsed after Judge Alistair McCreath told Southwark Crown Court he thought prosecution witness Mazher Mahmood had lied in giving evidence.
The judge told the jury the case “cannot go any further” because there were “strong grounds to believe” that Mr Mahmood had “lied” at a hearing before the trial started.
In a statement issued today following the collapse of Ms Contostavlos’s trial, Hide’s lawyer Mahtab Aziz, of Whitworth and Green Solicitors Ltd, said: “The collapse of Tulisa’s trial is a very interesting outcome and paves the way for a possible appeal of conviction for my client Herbie Hide who was similarly the subject of a Sun on Sunday sting by Mazher Mahmood in January/ February 2013.”
He added any appeal would be on the basis Mr Mahmood “has been exposed by the judge as being untruthful in court and with respect to his dishonest techniques employed to secure evidence which is used entrap and charge his subjects”.
Explaining his decision in the Ms Contostavlos trial, Judge McCreath said: “Where there has been some aspect of the investigation or prosecution of a crime which is tainted in some way by serious misconduct to the point that the integrity of the court would be compromised by allowing the trial to go ahead, in that sense the court would be seen to be sanctioning or colluding in that sort of behaviour, then the court has no alternative but to say ‘This case must go no further’.”
Mr Mahmood had claimed Ms Contostavlos, 26, had brokered a deal through her friend Mike GLC, whose real name is Michael Coombs, to supply Class A drugs.
Mr Coombs, 36, previously pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine but also walked free after he was informed the case against him could not proceed.
As previously reported Adam Budworth, mitigating for Hide, said he was a “Jekyll and Hyde” character whose public persona was very different to the “shy”, “vulnerable” man who was “entrapped” by the Sun and its employees who pursued him in a “relentless fashion”.
He said: “I’m not here to criticise the paper for its conduct but it has to be said this is not a case where the Sun or its associates have in any way unearthed a massive conspiracy.”
Mr Budworth said the cocaine supplied was just 0.1498gms and had less than 10pc purity.
He said: “This is not a case of crime fighting or exposing a criminal, this was a case of selling newspapers and nothing else.”
He added: “Mr Hide was entrapped into this offence. He did not instigate it. The first person to use the word cocaine was Mr Mahmood. It was not a case of Mr Hide saying ‘would you like some cocaine?’.”
Following the collapse of Ms Contostavlos’s trial, Mr Mahmood has been “suspended pending an internal investigation”.