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News of the World's 'fake sheikh' had Tom Watson followed, emails show | Media | The Guardian

Mazher Mahmood, who now works for Sunday Times, appears to have commissioned surveillance of phone-hacking critic

The News of the World journalist Mazher Mahmood commissioned surveillance on his paper’s chief phone-hacking critic, the Labour MP Tom Watson, in the hope of finding him having an affair, according to email evidence Watson has obtained.

News International’s internal investigating group, the management and standards committee, belatedly turned over the emails to a parliamentary committee of which Watson was a member. They implicate Mahmood and two former NoW executives, the assistant editor Ian Edmondson and news editor James Mellor.

This latest revelation of methods at the now-closed NoW will present difficulties for John Witherow, the editor of the Sunday Times. Mahmood, the so-called “fake sheikh” who specialised in controversial undercover investigations, was rehired by the Sunday Times after its sister paper was closed down by Rupert Murdoch, and is still working there.

Witherow has not so far commented on the disclosures.

The attempt by journalists at the NoW to gain evidence of sexual indiscretions by its arch-critic was launched on the morning of Saturday 26 September 2009, at the start of the Labour party conference. Mahmood claimed in an email to Mellor, copied to Edmondson, that he had received a tip that married Watson was “shagging” a fellow activist, and that he was “creeping into her hotel” at Brighton. The information, from a so-far unknown purported informant, appears to have been completely false. …

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