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Tulisa Contostavlos cleared of cocaine charges after trial collapses

Tulisa Contostavlos
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On July 21, 2014, the cocaine trial of former "X Factor" U.K. judge Tulisa Contostavlos collapsed after the trial's judge, Alistair McCreath, declared that the prosecution's key witness Mazher Mahmood (an undercover reporter for The Sun) had lied under oath. Contostavlos (who is 26) will not face another trial for the case since the charges against her have been dismissed.

According to the Associated Press: "The judge said a chauffeur named Alan Smith had been expected to testify that Contostavlos had told him she disapproved of drugs — 'but after [a] conversation with Mr. Mahmood, he had changed his mind.' At a pre-trial hearing, Mahmood denied speaking to Smith about the issue."

The trial began on July 16, 2014, at Southwark Crown Court in London. According to the Telegraph, the trial's testimony on the first day included details about how an undercover reporter for The Sun conned Contostavlos into thinking that she was being considered for a movie in which she would co-star with Leonardo DiCaprio.

According to the prosecution, the elaborate ruse resulted in Contostavlos offering to set up a cocaine deal worth £800 for The Sun reporter Mahmood, who was posing as a movie producer named Samir Khan. According to the testimony, Contostavlos was so fooled by the con that she thought that she would get the movie role over acclaimed actresses Keira Knightley and Kate Winslet, who have won numerous awards for their acting. Contostavlos has very little acting experience, except for roles in a few little-seen independent British movies.

Contostavlos was accused of being a go-between for Michael Coombs (also known as rapper Mike GLC), who sold cocaine to Mahmood at the Dorchester Hotel in London on May 23, 2013. Coombs pled guilty to the charge of supplying cocaine, but he too has been cleared of the charges since Mahmood has been discredited as a witness in the case.

After being cleared of the charges, Contostavlos made this statement outside of the courthouse: "Mahmood got me and my team completely intoxicated and persuaded me to act the part of a bad, rough, ghetto girl. They recorded this and produced this as evidence when I thought it was an audition." She also called Mahmood's actions "horrific and disgusting entrapment."

Whether or not she was acting, Contostavlos has said in many interviews and in her 2012 memoir "Honest: My Story So Far" that when she was a teenager, she associated with gang members was involved in criminal activity such as theft and using illegal drugs. She has also had a "ghetto" image as part of her persona and has said in many interviews that if she hadn't become famous, she'd probably be living with a drug dealer in council flats (the British equivalent of public housing).

The Sun has suspended Mahmood pending an investigation, according to the Associated Press. Mahmood's credibility was also called into question in 2002, when Mahmood claimed to have prevented a kidnapping of Victoria Beckham. According to the Associated Press: "Five men were charged, but the trial collapsed when it became clear Mahmood's main informant had been paid $18,500 and could not be considered a reliable witness." Before working for The Sun, Mahmood worked for The Sun's sister tabloid News of the World, which shut down in 2011 after a massive wiretapping/phone hacking scandal that resulted in the arrests of several News of the World executives.

In opening arguments at Contostavlos' trial, prosecutor Timothy Cray told the court: "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 ... 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 [Adam Bailey] was a major cocaine dealer ... And that back in her young days, she had been part of a gang that sold crack cocaine."

On Dec. 9, 2013, Contostavlos was charged with "being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs," specifically cocaine, according to a BBC News report. The formal charge from the Crown Prosecution Service comes six months after Constostavlos (who is 25) was arrested in June 2013 for allegedly being involved in a deal to sell cocaine to an undercover reporter for The Sun. She pled not guilty on Dec. 19, 2013, during an appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court in England.

Contostavlos' mansion in Hertfordshire, England, was searched by police on June 4, 2013, the day that she was arrested in London on suspicion of supplying cocaine. The arrest came two days after The Sun published an explosive story about how one of its undercover reporters caught Contostavlos on video setting up a £800 cocaine deal. She also allegedly bragged that it was easy for her to set up transactions for illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana because "half the guys I know are drug dealers." She has since sold the mansion.

Mike GLC, 36, was also arrested as part of the sting operation, and he faced the same charge as Contostavlos. The Sun reported that it had undercover video of Mike GLC completing the cocaine deal that Contostavlos allegedly set up. In the undercover video footage, Contostavlos allegedly describes Mike GLC as a "massive cocaine dealer" and "my best friend." The Sun reported that it handed over the undercover video and other evidence to the authorities.

Contostavlos was a judge on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2011 and 2012. She was fired from the show in 2013, a few months before her arrest. Contostavlos was replaced by Sharon Osbourne, who was originally a judge on "The X Factor" U.K. from 2004 to 2007. Osbourne quit the show again in 2013 and was replaced by Cheryl Cole in 2014.

At the time of Contostavlos' arrest, she had been planning a reunion with her hip-hop group N-Dubz, but those plans have now obviously been put on hold.

But according to a video from one of The Sun's undercover reporters, Contostavlos says she really wants to quit the music business. The Sun reports that she says in the video: “It’s all a big game. I call the industry 'a big fat ugly cow.' I want to get out of that. I want to get away from that. I’m kind of like almost gagging for an opportunity to go. I don’t want to do that any more — but I have a £6 million mortgage to pay.”

In April 2013, The Sun and The Daily Mirror reported that Contostavlos spent time in Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actress. She has already had roles in a few independent British movies that have not been widely seen: 2011's "Demons Never Die," 2011's "Big Fat Gypsy Gangster" and 2009's "Dubplate Drama."

According to the Mirror's Sunday People, she was duped into thinking that she was getting £8 million for the lead role in a Bollywood film in which she would star as a woman from London who moves to India. Contostavlos was even flown to Los Angeles and Las Vegas and had meetings in London for discussions about the role. But it was all an elaborate hoax from con artists that was exposed a few days before Contostavlos was arrested, according to the Sunday People.

An unnamed source told the Sunday People: “Tulisa says that they have played with her life. She’s shocked, destroyed and devastated. It still hasn’t sunk in. She feels like she’s been completely set up and that what has happened has messed with her life. She now feels like she can’t trust anyone at all — even some of her closest friends.

“She was so excited about ­making the big announcement. She even had the contract ready to sign. When she found out that there had never been a job all along last Saturday [June 1, 2013], she was devastated. She couldn’t believe it. She has been so sad all week and is stressed and depressed by it all.”

Meanwhile, Tulisa's estranged father Plato Contostavlos, who says he has not spoken to her since 2010, told The Sun that he and his mother are “devastated" over her arrest, and that his mother was so upset that she had a severe panic attack when she heard about the arrest.

Tulisa's parents divorced when she was 10. Her mother, Anne, has gone public with having bipolar disorder and spending time in and out of psychiatric institutions. There was a documentary about it called "Tulisa: My Mum and Me," which aired on BBC3 in 2010.

Tulisa mother and Tulisa's older half-brother, Neil Jones, have not publicly commented on Tulisa's cocaine arrest and trial. As previously reported, Tulisa and Jones (who have the same father) met in person for the first time on March 3, 2013. Jones, who was raised by his mother and his stepfather, did not know the name of his biological father until his mother told him this year.

In March 2014, Contostavlos was tainted by another drug scandal, as her live-in personal assistant and close friend Gareth Varey was arrested in London for selling cocaine and for possessing marijuana. The Daily Mirror reported the news on March 4, 2014.

She has not publicly commented on Varey's arrest, which came nine months after her own arrest for selling cocaine. Contostvalos and Varey live together in a North London apartment. She has said in many interviews that Varey is her "best friend" but that they are not dating each other. Varey used to be a backup dancer for Contostavlos' hip-hop group N-Dubz.

Scotland Yard issued this statement about Varey's arrest: "Police have arrested a 28-year-old man in Barnet on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and possession of cannabis."

Varey had been accompanying Contostavlos to her court appearances. In an undercover recording played during her trial, Varey claimed that Simon Cowell is gay. Cowell, through his legal team, has denied the allegation.

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