The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I'm not saying that all of them are, no. I think especially in the early days he was a fairly genuine reporter, but as times went on, it seems to me, having looked at a lot of his stories over a long period of time, that it slowly became easier for him to take the bare bones of a story, or the mere scintilla of a story, and find circumstances in which he could turn it into a much bigger story. The most obvious case was -- there were two obvious cases, specifically the Beckhams again. He claimed that they had foiled an attempt to kidnap Victoria Beckham. When it came to court, which it eventually did -- and I might say that quite a lot of people were in jail for quite a long time awaiting trial -- it turned out that there were no such case at all. These were a group of people who had discussed it and they had recorded -- Mazher Mahmood's agent provocateur, who was a chap called Florim Gashi, an Albanian who used to bring stories to him, to whom he gave 10,000 quid for this particular one, recorded them in a club where they used to go and play snooker, saying, "Oh yes, I know what we could do for a bit of money, we could kidnap the Beckhams", in the same way that you might say you might win the lottery. I mean, there was no serious intent there at all. It was on the basis of that recording alone, which was entirely speculative and not at all serious and actually had absolutely no basis in anybody's real plans whatsoever, that the arrests were made and the case was brought. I mean, there was ultimately no evidence whatsoever of any kind of conspiracy to kidnap these people, which must have been frightening for the Beckhams themselves, because I think their children were involved, and frightening for other people, thinking -- every time there's a story like this comes out, they think, "Oh, this could happen to me", but it was based on nothing at all other than Mazher Mahmood's inventiveness.

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