Jailed boxer reveals he battled depression after Fake Sheikh drug sting

Herbie Hide gave a tearful interview to ITV News Credit: ITV News

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

Former boxing champion Herbie Hide has told how a drugs sting set up by The Sun's 'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood left him "crying every day" as he battled depression.

Mahmood filmed Hide setting up a cocaine deal, and the boxer was jailed after pleading guilty to supplying the Class A drug. He is now among three people prosecuted based on evidence gathered by Mahmood who have this week lodged appeals against their convictions.

And in a tearful interview with ITV News, Hide said he had completely lost his confidence after the case, claiming Mahmood and his team had persistently begged him to get drugs for them, wearing him down until he made the phone call.

Hide, from Norfolk, served nine months of his sentence, which was reduced from 22 months to 18 months after an appeal last year.

And he has now launched a fresh appeal against his conviction, claiming he only pleaded guilty on the advice of his lawyers.

He argues that the collapse of the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos - during which Mahmood was accused of lying about the evidence - counts as fresh evidence in his case.

He also points to the "precedent" set by Tulisa's co-defendant, Michael Coombs - aka rapper Mike GLC - who walked free after the trial was brought to a halt despite entering a guilty plea.

During Hide's trial at Cambridge Crown Court, his defence lawyers raised concerns about the use of "entrapment" tactics to target the sportsman - and Judge Mark Lucraft QC said his initial sentence had been partially reduced because of the "sting element".

Hide, a two-time world heavyweight champion during the 90s, told ITV News he had cried every day both during the trial and while in prison - and said one of the worst experiences for him was when someone told his daughter that he was a "cocaine dealer".

Prosecutors during his trial described how Hide was targeted by Mahmood, nicknamed the Fake Sheikh because of his disguise as a wealthy Arab, as part of an investigation into alleged match fixing.

The court heard he met Mahmood in a hotel room, where he arranged for co-defendant Ben Sharman to get hold of £400 worth of cocaine, which he gave to the 'sheikh'.

Hide's case is now among 25 under review by the Crown Prosecution Service following the collapse of the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos, when the sitting judge said he believed undercover reporter Mahmood had lied in court to cover up the fact he had manipulated evidence.

Hide's initial 22-month sentence was reduced to 18 months on appeal Credit: PA

Speaking at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Alistair McCreath said the prosecution's case had become "tainted" by "serious misconduct", and said there were "strong grounds" to believe Mahmood had "lied" and given "entirely inconsistent" evidence.

Mahmood has been suspended by The Sun while the newspaper conducts its own internal investigation.

His solicitors, Kingsley Napley LLP, issued a statement on his behalf, stating the investigation had been "entirely legitimate and justified".