Grange Hill star, John Alford, who played Robbie Wright between 1984-1990, returned to BBC 1 this week after 18 years in the TV wilderness. John who went on to star in London’s Burning, lost his home and career when in 1996, the News Of The World ran a story claiming he was a drug dealer. Involving the infamous ‘Fake Sheikh’ reporter, Mazhar Mahmood, the story lead to John being imprisoned in 1999, for six weeks for supplying drugs. London’s Burning terminated his contract and John found it hard to get regular acting work after his release.
However, in July 2014, pop singer Tulisa Contostavlos found herself on trial following a similar ordeal at the hands of the News Of The World reporter. Unlike John Alford’s trial, Tulisa’s collapsed after the judge claimed there were “strong grounds for believing” that Mr Mahmood had committed perjury in court. This then threw a spotlight on to the Fake Sheikh’s previous ‘sting’s’, particularly John Alford’s.
Talking to Panorama, John revealed that after the conviction he had considered suicide. He was quoted as saying, “No one can give me the 18 years I’ve lost, no one can give me that back. I hope this is the first day of a new life for me.”
It is thought that, after the events of July’s ‘Tulisa’ trial, further legal action will follow from victims of the ‘Fake Sheikh’.
Panorama gave John Alford the chance to honestly and openly discuss his own side of the story, which up until July, he had been unable to do.
Read The Guardian’s report here.