There are countless great true crime documentaries out there right now, but none come more gripping than Amazon Prime’s new series The Fake Sheikh.


Following the story of journalist Mazher Mahmood, who was given the moniker when he went undercover and posed as the Arab leader on several occasions, the show reveals his unorthodox methods of obtaining information - which ultimately led to his downfall.

But who was Mahmood, and where is he now? Read on to find out.

Who is Mazher Mahmood?

Mazher Mahmood, a British journalist known as the Fake Sheikh, is pictured as he leaves the Central Criminal Court in central London, on September 19, 2016, with a covering over his face
Mazher Mahmood.

Birmingham-born Mahmood’s first sting as a journalist came when he was still in his teens, when he exposed family friends who sold pirated videos.

This secured him two weeks work at News of the World - the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper that was the biggest-selling UK tabloid in its heyday.

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In 1989 and now 18-years-old, Mahmood joined the Sunday Times - which was also owned by Murdoch - where he worked for nearly three years, before securing a full-time job at the place he’d started his career.

During his years working both publications, Mahmood’s investigations lead to a reported 94 convictions.

What did Mazher Mahmood do?

Over the course of his 20-year career, Mahmood became known for spearheading countless investigations that led to criminal convictions, and was celebrated within his industry for his work uncovering injustices - but he was also heavily criticised for setting up stings that saw lives and careers ruined.

The journalist became known for posing as an Arab businessman as part of his ops, which earned him the infamous moniker 'The Fake Sheikh'.

In fact, Mahmood was so insistent on concealing his identity that he rarely ever visited the News of the World’s offices, and it was also rumoured that his contract contained a clause stating that his photograph would never be published - with a silhouette appearing next to his byline instead.

His 'victims' include: former glamour model Emma Morgan; Pakistan bowlers Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and captain Salman Butt, who served jail time when their betting scam was uncovered; Newcastle United bosses Freddy Shepherd and Douglas Hall, who mocked fans and branded Geordie women 'dogs' after taking Mahmood to a brothel in Marbella; and former England football coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

In the new documentary, fashion model Jodie Kidd says getting involved with Mahmood was "the biggest mistake of my life" after she was called a "coke fixer" on a front page story.

The television personality says the sting "destroyed" her family, and that she still doesn’t speak to her brother because of the fallout.

"I worked so hard to build these relationships and my career, just for a stupid moment that you were completely groomed and manipulated to make," she said in the documentary. "All of those years of tears and anger and pain because of this man."

But perhaps the most high-profile case that Mahmood led was the 2010 sting in which The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, appeared to offer access to her former husband Prince Andrew in exchange for £500,000, according to the News of the World.

Mahmood, who posed as a businessman, recorded the duchess saying: "Look after me and he’ll look after you… you’ll get it back tenfold. I can open any door you want."

Where is Mazher Mahmood now?

Mahmood’s career came crashing down after singer Tulisa Contostavlos decided to fight back against a possible jail term by exposing his shady methods.

In 2013, the former X Factor judge was arrested by police on suspicion of supplying Class-A drugs, after Mahmood posed as an influential film producer who wanted her to star in a Hollywood blockbuster.

After meeting at the Metropolitan Hotel in London in 2013, Tulisa allegedly arranged for Mahmood to be sold half an ounce of cocaine by one of her contacts for £800, evidence that was then handed to police and saw her facing trial.

However, during the course of Tulisa’s drugs trial, Mahmood was found to have perverted the course of justice after his driver, Alan Smith, changed a police statement to remove comments that the N-Dubz star made to him, which expressed her disapproval of hard drugs.

The case ultimately collapsed - but Mahmood was charged and eventually jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of evidence tampering.

Since being released from prison, Mahmood is reported to have changed his name and identity - and is no longer working as a journalist.

The Fake Sheikh is streaming on Amazon Prime Video from Tuesday 26th September.

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