An independent investigation for The Sunday Times by lawyers Linklaters has found evidence to back up 134 of investigative journalist Mazher Mahmood’s claimed 253 successful criminal prosecutions.
The inquiry follows journalist Paddy French questioning Mahmood’s evidence to the inquiry and his claims about the number of successful criminal prosections secured as a result of his work for the News of the World.
In October 2011, Mahmood said in written evidence to the Leveson Inquiry: “During my career at The News of the World, the articles that I have published have led to 253 successful criminal prosecution.”
Linklaters has found evidence for 134 convictions involving 94 individuals.
Mahmood claims that his total included some 140 illegal immigrants deported as a result of his journalism. But he has now said that he understands from Linklaters that such individuals would not necessarily have been subject to criminal prosecutions.
He said in his statement: “I apologise for my error in including this individuals in the number of convictions originally given to the inquiry.”
He has also apologised for including 13 individuals barred from their professions or relevant sporting bodies in his initial tally.
Mahmood said in his latestLeveson witness statement, which is now live on the inquiry website: “Throughout my career, I have kept a broad running check on the number of prosecutions my work generated, but I have not kept records and clippings of each and every case going back over a more than 20-year period and nor was any proper log or record maintained by the News of the World.
“When I received Mr French’s statement, which was provided to The Sunday Times by Mr French directly, I provided to Linklaters details of all of the prosecutions which I could recall that predated my first statement. This list exceeded 253 prosecutions, as I believed the number included in my first statement to be a conservative estimate.”
He said that Linklaters has verified 134 criminal offences carried out by 94 individuals. Mahmood said that his initial tally had counted each separate offence as a criminal prosecution.
He said in his statement: “I am personally confident that my work as a journalist has led to substantially more convictions than the 94 individuals which Linklaters has been able to verify independently for the period pre-dating my first statement.”
He added: “I also understand that in a small number of cases, it has been difficult to link a verified conviction to an article published by me. This is because not all of my successful prosecutions arose from articles published in the newspaper – for example, in September 2011 John Batty was convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court of sexual offences against a minor. This prosecution arose from information I passed to the police (I also gave evidence at the trial) – but no story ever appeared in the News of the World or Sunday Times relating to this matter.
“In that respect my statement that ‘articles I had published in the News of the World’ had led to successful criminal prosecutions should in fact have said that ‘my work as a joumalist’ had led to these prosecutions.”