Singer Tulisa used code to help in cocaine deal, court told
Former X Factor judge allegedly boasted she could ‘sort out’ drugs for night in London strip club
Singer Tulisa Contostavlos arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London today. Contostavlos is on trial accused of being concerned with the supply of a class A drug, which she denies. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters
Former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos used code words to help broker a cocaine deal with an undercover reporter who claimed she was in the frame for a leading film role opposite A-list stars, a court has heard.
Journalist Mazher Mahmood, dubbed the “fake sheikh”, posed as a wealthy film producer called Samir Khan when he met the former N-Dubz star in Las Vegas and at the luxury Metropolitan hotel in London’s Mayfair, jurors heard.
The 26-year-old singer was told she was up against Hollywood stars Kate Winslet and Keira Knightley for a role in the film, while Leonardo Di Caprio was a possible co-star, prosecutor Tim Cray told London’s Southwark Crown Court.
Keen to impress, Ms Contostavlos allegedly boasted that she could “sort out” drugs for a boys’ night out at a London strip club she was arranging for Mr Mahmood after he returned from a trip to Cannes.
She put the undercover reporter in touch with her rapper friend Mike GLC who supplied the cocaine - which Ms Contostavlos referred to as “white sweets” - at a late-night rendezvous at London’s five-star Dorchester Hotel, the prosecutor said.
The singer also allegedly bragged that she used to be part of a gang which sold crack cocaine and that her ex-boyfriend was a cocaine dealer.
But the illicit drug deal was taped and exposed in a front-page story in the Sun newspaper last June, the court heard.
Mike GLC, whose real name is Michael Coombs (36), pleaded guilty on Monday to supplying half an ounce (13.9g) of cocaine - which tests later showed was at 37 per cent purity - for £860.
Ms Contostavlos continues to deny helping to broker the deal.
Opening the case, Mr Cray told jurors: “When the defendant had got involved in this drugs supply, she believed that Samir Khan was a film producer, a movie producer, a big shot.
“She thought he could get her a part in a big movie that was coming up and it seems that she was keen to be in his good books and be friendly with him.”
Mr Mahmood met Ms Contostavlos in Las Vegas in March last year while she was in the US trying to boost her acting career, and later dined with her at Nobu, the popular celebrity hangout, in London, the court heard.
While at the Metropolitan Hotel with Mr Mahmood on May 10th last year, the singer spoke about being able to get “white sweets” - slang for cocaine - and “green sweets” for cannabis, Mr Cray said.
He told the court: “During the talk at the Metropolitan Hotel, the defendant said she used cannabis to help get to sleep and that she had connections to drug dealers.
“She then went on to say that one of her ex-boyfriends was a major cocaine dealer and that, back in her young days, she had been part of a gang that sold crack cocaine.”
The undercover reporter gained Ms Contostavlos’s trust, Mr Cray said, and in one phone call played to the court she spoke to him about breaking up with her boyfriend, a footballer, whom she described as an “arsehole”.
In a conversation on May 21st she spoke to Mr Mahmood again and promised him “white sweets” for a boys’ night out at an east London strip club run by her ex-boyfriend, Adam Bailey, jurors heard.
The court was played the phone call in which the reporter said: “What about white sweets?” and Contostavlos allegedly replied: “Yes, definitely on the day.
“I can definitely sort it. I just need to make some more calls.”
Mr Mahmood was then heard saying “keep this between us”, to which Ms Contostavlos allegedly replied: “I don’t think it would sound too good if Tulisa’s off finding white sweets.”
Mr Cray told the jury that “nobody was talking about polo mints” during the phone call and that on May 22nd she texted Mr Mahmood, writing: “Let me know wen u land so I can sort u out! Love Tulisa xxx.”
Later, Ms Contostavlos sent another text to the reporter, writing: “Okey dokey, I have a number for u to call of my good friend that will sort u out, give me a ring in a bit.”
Shortly afterwards, the drug deal was carried out at London’s Dorchester hotel in the early hours of May 23rd, the jury was told.
Mr Cray said: “In a sentence, therefore, the focus of what you have to look at and look at hard, we allege the defendant was instrumental in arranging the supply of cocaine carried out in the Dorchester early on the Thursday morning.
“Putting it plainly, she had said that she could arrange for cocaine for Samir Khan - ‘sorting him out’ - she put him in touch with one of her friends, Mr Coombs, who did the deal.”
Mr Cray said that rather than endear herself to a powerful film producer, Ms Contostavlos had her face splashed across a national newspaper.
He said: “She was part of a sting by the Sun newspaper. She fell for it.
“It certainly made for a good newspaper story, because the defendant had been a member of a pop group, a judge on a TV talent show, and is generally well known in the world of entertainment.”
Dressed in a black dress and black and white and patterned jacket, with her hair in a ponytail, Ms Contostavlos looked straight ahead from the dock as the prosecutor delivered his opening speech.
In a written statement to police following her arrest last year, she said she had spoken to Mr Mahmood in an “exaggerated manner” and was “playing a role”, the court heard.
“The impression given in the Sun newspaper is misleading,” she told police.
“My words have been taken out of context. I’m not a drug dealer. I didn’t initiate the supply of drugs to the Sun journalist.”
Giving evidence from behind a screen to protect his identity, Mr Mahmood said he was playing the role of a film producer from India when he met Ms Contostavlos with another undercover reporter.
“We claimed to be from India and we wanted to make an international film with a substantial budget and we wanted to befriend Tulisa Contostavlos,” he said.
Mr Mahmood said Ms Contostavlos brought up the topic of drugs during their meeting at the Metropolitan hotel on May 10th.
“She brought it up with words to the effect that she would go home tonight and have a drink and she might have cannabis to go to sleep,” he told the court.
They discussed drugs again later at the hotel bar when the singer said she was not a cocaine user but did smoke cannabis, Mr Mahmood said.
During his opening speech, Mr Cray warned the jury to keep their “feet firmly on the ground” when considering the case, and not be swayed by the glitz and glamour of “showbusiness, journalism and the world of celebrity”.
Ms Contostavlos, of Friern Barnet, north London, denies helping an undercover reporter to obtain 0.5oz (13.9g) of the Class A drug for £860.
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.