Mazher Mahmood denies `phone hacking` involvement in spot-fixing story


Former News of the World journalist Mazher Mahmood has denied that his investigation into alleged spot-fixing at last year's Lord's Test between Pakistan and England began after the unlawful taking of evidence from hacked phones.

Mahmood, also known as the "Fake Sheikh", whose article led to the arrests of Pakistan cricketers Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt on charges of cheating at gambling and receiving corrupt payments, was giving evidence at London's Southwark crown court from behind a screen to hide his identity, The Guardian reports.

During his evidence, reference was made to the problems that led to the British tabloid being closed down by its parent company over the phone-hacking scandal.

Mahmood, who claimed that he had received death threats since publishing the story on the spot-fixing scandal, said that he had launched his investigation after a source sent him copies of "incriminating" text messages from the UK-based agent Mazhar Majeed's BlackBerry mobile, which appeared to show that match-fixing had been going on for a long time.

When Asif's lawyer, Alexander Milne QC, suggested: "It is downloaded from a telephone without the knowledge of the person," Mahmood responded: "You are assuming it's without the knowledge of the person."

"Hacking is illegal. Did it not cause you any concern that it might be hacked material?" Milne asked the journalist.

"There is no hacking involved," responded Mahmood - one of his repeated denials of any phone-hacking activity, according to the report.

Mahmood stressed that he had sought the approval of his organisation's legal department before pressing ahead with his investigation, the report added.

"Do you know of Glenn Mulcaire, who was sent to prison for phone hacking at the News of the World?" Milne asked him.

"I have never met him, never spoken to Glenn Mulcaire in 20 years," Mahmood said.

The sometimes spiky exchange between the defence and the players' accuser dominated a day in which Mahmood was cross-examined by defence legal teams, the report said, adding that Mahmood's investigation was based on the pretence that he was an Indian businessman interested in setting up a cricket tournament for betting purposes.

Source: South East Asia News.Net