Tuesday 21 January 2020

Eriksson to take legal action over 'Fake Sheikh' newspaper sting

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Sven-Goran Eriksson
Mazher Mahmood, known as the "Fake Sheikh

Gordon Rayner in London

Sven-GOran Eriksson, the former England football manager, plans to sue for compensation over a newspaper sting orchestrated by the discredited 'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood.

Eriksson (68), is the most high-profile figure to announce the intention to take legal action against Mahmood and News Corp, following Mahmood's conviction for perverting justice on October 5.

In January 2006, Eriksson met Mahmood, who was posing as a businessman, and asked him to take over Aston Villa FC, where he wanted to become manager once he had finished as England manager. He also said he would try to sign David Beckham, who was then at Real Madrid.

Later the same month, the Football Association announced that Eriksson would be leaving the England job after that year's World Cup. The FA and Eriksson said at the time that the News of the World story had nothing to do with the decision.

Eriksson told Sky Sports News HQ: "That man was a disaster for my professional life. England was the biggest job of my life, and he took it away from me.

"I would probably have been sacked anyway if England didn't win the World Cup in 2006 - but in fact, I was sacked because of the Fake Sheikh; 90pc of what he said about me was lies.

"The newspaper apologised six months later, but it was too late by then - I'd lost the biggest job of my life, and my reputation was in tatters."

Eriksson, who is currently managing Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG, said that Mahmood, who will be sentenced on October 21, "should be in prison".

Up to 20 subjects of Mahmood's stings have consulted the solicitor Mark Lewis, who also represented victims of phone-hacking, with a view to suing for compensation. Some went to prison, while others have said they lost their careers as a result of exposure by Mahmood.

An jury found Mahmood, whose career spanned the 'News of the World', 'The Sunday Times' and the 'Sun on Sunday', guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice together with his former driver Alan Smith.

They had tampered with evidence relating to the prosecution of pop singer Tulisa Contostavlos for supplying drugs, leading to the collapse of her trial.

Miss Contostavlos had been the subject of a front-page story by Mahmood after she arranged for a contact to sell cocaine to him, but she claimed she had been set up.

Among those who have consulted Mr Lewis are a former Page 3 model called Emma Morgan, who was accused of dealing drugs, and Murray Harkin, a former business partner of Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.

Mr Lewis has suggested claims against News Corp over Mahmood stings could "dwarf" the £330 million that the phone-hacking scandal cost the company.


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