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Wednesday, July 26, 2006 

Things go from bad to worse for Mr Mahmood.

A day after three men walked free from court, cleared of attempting to buy the fictional chemical substance "red mercury" for terrorist purposes, Mazher Mahmood is facing yet another crisis. Florim Gashi, the man paid £10,000 for informing Mahmood of the "plot" to kidnap Victoria Beckham and her children has turned supergrass.

In a request for an appeal against a failed libel claim against the News of the Screws over the kidnap plot that never was, Gashi has given evidence against Mahmood. Apparently seeing the error of his ways, and feeling guilty, especially after meeting with the MediaGrauniad blogger Roy Greenslade, he told the two court of appeal judges that the kidnap plot was a "put-up job" in which our friend Mr Mahmood was complicit. According to the MediaGrauniad report, Gashi also apparently gave evidence against the Screws and Mahmood in the "red mercury" case.

All of which has to make you wonder whether Gashi was cut loose by the Screws after he was deported from Britain last year. While his story that he has seen the light may well be true, it's equally possible he tried blackmailing the Screws out of more money by threatening to go public. News International is not one to given in to such a scheme, and most likely called Gashi's bluff.

The court judges themselves are not optimistic that Gashi's evidence will be accepted by a jury; after all, he lied to the police. Nevertheless, it's another set-back for Mahmood, a man who only believes in press freedom when it earns him and his bosses money. The full unmasking of the fake sheikh and his gutter entrapment journalism are a step nearer.

Update: Surprise, surprise, there's no mention in the Sun today of yesterday's verdict involving Mr Mahmood and his imagination, although the Times does cover it.

Oh, and there's this:
On March 15 we published an article about a postman Jason Johnson who has difficulty reading numbers.

We have been asked to point out, and accept, that Mr Johnson, of Blackheath, South East London, has no difficulties performing his job and we were wrong to highlight his disability.

The Sun apologises to him for the distress our article caused.


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