Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Fake Sheik, Rattle and Heads that Roll

Whatever actually went on between Tulisa and the Fake Sheik what puzzles me is why it was seen by the CPS as the kind of case worthy of taking to court. I may have lost my moral compass but attempting to supply £860 worth of coke doesn't  seem to me to place Tulisa in the Napoleon of Crime category. We live in a world where the middle aged daughter of a former Chancellor uses a little charlie. Whatever his motivations, the scale of Mazher Mahmood's investigation went way beyond anything the alleged offence justified.

From my perspective it would have seemed the kind of offence that would be handled with a caution if anything.  So  I took a look at the CPS site to see what kind of sentence Tulisa could have expected. I was surprised by weight of the sanctions. Some years ago I came across a woman who had been stabbed by her partner and the Police would not take the case forward because she was not willing to testify against him. He was a thoroughly violent and nasty man who soon after stabbed a friend, and had an appalling history of violence and antisocial behaviour. In the context of this the sentences around drugs seemed heavy. However but to Tulisa's supply case.

Against her is that Coke is a class A drug so it all gets very punitive. However there are significant mitigations. He role as a supplier seems to fall into the 'lesser' category. She seemed to be involved through naivety, her influence of the supply chain small and could be said to have been pressured into doing it. Then is the quantity, I am not expert but my assumption is that £860 would place it in the lowest category in term of volume. In addition the purpose of the supply is also relevant. She was not dishing it out in school playgrounds. Instead she obtained a small quantity for what she would have believed was a business associate (maybe even friend) to use on a lads weekend. On this basis if convicted Tulisa, who doesn't have a long history of drug dealing, and who from the evidence was having massive carrots dangled before her, it is likely that it would have ended in a community sentence.

On that basis I do wonder whether some of the CPS motivation of pressing ahead with this case (where they would have been aware of all the entrapment challenges etc) was not in some way driven by the celebrity not of Tulisa but of Mahmood, the fake sheik. To have left the case on file, or issue a caution would have not satisfied. Given the high profile of the investigator and the huge operation he had undertaken was this a pressure to go ahead with a case that seems to lack value. Interesting to the public yes, in the public interest, dubious.

There are cases where Mahmood's tactics have been of value in capturing genuine gangsters. If that is where he focussed his talents few would have anything but admiration for him and the papers that employed him. The choice (especially in the post Leveson world) to use this weapon to embarrass and humiliate mid range celebs for minor wrong doing seems foolish, both on the part of the paper and Mahmood.