Singer Tulisa cannot sue ‘Irish Sun’ over ‘sting operation’

‘X Factor’ star alleged she was set up in a sting operation

Judge said he was “astounded” a more rapid reaction to initiate legal proceedings by Tulisa Contostavios did not take place. Photograph: Ian West/PA Wire

Judge said he was “astounded” a more rapid reaction to initiate legal proceedings by Tulisa Contostavios did not take place. Photograph: Ian West/PA Wire


X Factor judge and singer Tulisa Contostavios has been refused permission to bring defamation proceedings against the Irish Sun newspaper arising from what the president of the High Court described as a “shabby sting operation”.

The singer (24) wanted permission to bring proceedings alleging she was set up in a sting operation involving an alleged suggestion she audition for a €3.5 million Hollywood lead film role also being considered by actor Kiera Knightley.

Ms Contostavios alleged she was “taken in” and believed she would get the part if she presented herself as street wise and someone who knew about drugs.

In documents read to the court, she said she was told she was being considered for the main role in a film which would also star Leonardo Di Caprio.

“I fell hook, line and sinker for what I now know was a sting operation,” she said in an affidavit. Ms Contostavlos, with an address in London, had been “cruelly deceived in a shabby sting operation” and there was no doubt it had caused her grave upset, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said.

However, the judge, who had been asked to extend time for Ms Contostavlos to bring the case, said he was “astounded” a more rapid reaction to initiate legal proceedings did not take place. There should be no extension of time granted, he ruled.

The singer, the court heard earlier, had been arrested within days of an article appearing in the Irish Sun in June 2013 which featured a headline: “She scores” and also referred to “The dark side of Tulisa”.

Ms Contostavlos was charged with intent to supply a class A drug but in June 2014 all charges against her were struck out, the court heard.

In an affidavit, Ms Contostavlos said, when she was in Los Angeles in early 2013, she was contacted by people who claimed to be from 21st Century Fox who said they were interested in auditioning her for a film.

She said she agreed to meet them in Las Vegas and she and a friend were flown first class there and taken to a large hotel called The Venetian. She said she met a man who identified himself as Samir Khan and said he was a film producer.

She said she now knows that man to be Mazher Mahmood, a journalist with the newspaper who wrote the article published on June 2nd, 2013.

She said Mr Mahmood had, over dinner, asked her would she be interested in playing the lead role in a movie where the main character was to be a girl from a rough ghetto. During the dinner, one of the group left the table and came back saying: “Cameron Diaz is on the phone.”

She said Mr Mahmood had said: “I’ll call her back” before saying to Ms Contostavlos: “She really wants the role.” She said he also said they were looking at Leonardo DiCaprio to play the role of an FBI agent.

On a later date in London, she was told she was probably not going to get the role “since it looked like Kiera Knightley would be given it instead”, Ms Contostavlos said.

She claimed she was advised by another person in the group to represent herself as a more suitable person for an urban British role and as a result she sought to present herself “as a ghetto girl”.

She said she was later asked could she get cocaine. She said she had, “foolishly, because I believed it was necessary to secure the part”, said she would be able to get some. She said she was trying to convince them she was “a rough girl with inside knowledge who knew how to buy drugs in London”.

Ms Contostavlos said she has never taken cocaine and had asked a friend to pretend to be a drug dealer. As a result of the newspaper “sting”, her career was destroyed, she said.

In responding to criticisms of delay in bringing the proceedings, Ms Contostavlos said, after she was charged, and until the case against her was struck out last year, she was focussed on the criminal prosecution. She said she may have maintained a high profile but that was required “to try and salvage the destruction that was inflicted on my career”.

It is understood Ms Contostavlos is considering an appeal against the High Court decision.