'Our targets are invariably driven by greed'

By Dominic Ponsford

In an exclusive interview the News of the World’s fake sheikh,
Mazher Mahmood, has revealed the common denominator uniting all his
victims – greed.

After a week in which Mahmood’s Sven- Goran
Eriksson undercover sting has led the news agenda, he said: “Our
targets are invariably driven by greed, and the disguise has been a
useful tool for helping expose high-profile targets who are involved in
criminal or moral wrongdoing.”

Other victims of Mahmood’s
trademark sting, in which he poses as a rich Arab businessman, include
the DJ Jonnie Walker, the Countess of Wessex, Cherie Blair’s friend
Carole Caplin and Princess Michael of Kent.

The Eriksson
investigation began in July and involved Mahmood posing as a
businessman wanting to set up a football academy in Dubai.

Over
meetings on luxury yachts in Dubai and at expensive restaurants,
Eriksson revealed that he was prepared to leave England after the World
Cup to coach Aston Villa on £5m a year, and that he would “tap-up”
David Beckham. He also described one England star as “lazy”.

The
News of the World came under attack from football fans and pundits this
week for possibly undermining England’s World Cup campaign in Germany
this summer.

Responding to the critics, Mahmood said: “With six
months to go, it would be reasonable to expect the England coach to
have his mind focused on one goal – to win the World Cup. But that is
clearly not the case.

Eriksson is more interested in securing his future and lining his own pockets.

“Worryingly,
our investigation also showed Sven’s personal relationship with Beckham
would certainly affect his decisionmaking on the pitch.

“While we
are 100 per cent behind England in our support for the World Cup, I
think the fans need to be told that the coach is not as committed.”

Revealing
how the story came about, Mahmood said: “We received information from a
source that Sven felt his days with the FA were numbered and that he
was actively looking for a new job. In fact when we met him, Sven
confirmed that he had personally taken a proposal to Abramovich, which
the Chelsea boss had turned down.

It is also well documented that he had a separate meeting with Peter Kenyon.”

Denying
any suggestion that Sven was entrapped by the NoW’s bogus multi-million
pound offers, Mahmood said: “We always work strictly within the law and
abide by the PCC guidelines. The transcripts clearly show that at no
time did we offer any inducements or contravene any guidelines. In
fact, we were taken aback when Sven suggested that we buy an English
club and threw in Beckham to encourage us to invest.”

Explaining
why the investigation took so long, he said: “It was delayed when
England lost to Ireland and so qualification for the World Cup was not
guaranteed. Sven felt that the FA would take a dim view if he were
travelling to Dubai at that time. He also cancelled a scheduled meeting
in November because he had been ordered to watch a match by the FA.

“Then
another meet was set up for December, but we had to cancel, because I
was giving evidence in a court case. Sven’s agent Athole Still and his
partner Richard des Voeux rang repeatedly to reschedule the meeting in
Dubai, insisting that Sven was very, very keen to get involved with our
project to coach at an academy out there.

“All these conversations, including those with Sven and his team in Dubai are recorded on tape.”

The News of the World has promised to publish more revelations from the Sven sting this weekend.

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