'Fake Sheik' appears at UK phone hacking inquiry

AP , Monday 12 Dec 2011

A former undercover reporter for the now-defunct News of the World tabloid has told Britain's media ethics inquiry that he only duped celebrities to expose criminality, immorality or hypocrisy

Mazher Mahmood is nicknamed the "Fake Sheik" after his signature ruse of pretending to be a rich Gulf businessman to trap celebrities, politicians and suspected criminals.

He said Monday that his stories had to meet rigorous public interest standards, such as exposing criminality.

He also said celebrities were fair game "if they present themselves as wholesome characters and trade on that status" while behaving hypocritically.

The judge-led inquiry was set up after it emerged that the Rupert Murdoch tabloid hacked the phones of public figures and crime victims.

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