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Fake Sheikh hits back at BBC over exposé TV documentaryGetty Images

'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood has hit back at "misleading" claims by the BBC in a pulled Panorama TV documentary.

Sun on Sunday reporter Mahmood accused programme makers of lining up discredited "whistle-blowers" to tarnish his reputation as an investigative journalist.

Mahmood and the BBC are in a legal battle over Panorama show 'Fake Sheikh – Exposed,' which was pulled before broadcast by lawyers acting for the reporter this week.

The BBC has pledged to air the show as soon as possible. Mahmood claimed it should not go out until police have finished investigating the collapse of former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos' trial for allegedly supplying drugs.

The charges against Contostavlos stem from a sting instigated by Mahmood.

Mahmood said: "The BBC Panorama programme 'Fake Sheikh – Exposed' has now been postponed twice. The reasons given by the BBC last night are deeply misleading and I am forced into making a statement to correct the impression they have given.

"I am an investigative journalist and am as happy as anyone for the media to investigate. However I would expect them to rely upon credible sources.

"The BBC investigation appears to be largely based on allegations from two individuals who cannot be relied upon, in particular a former News of the World photographer, Steve Grayson, and Florim Gashi."

The Leveson inquiry into press standards, held in 2012, heard that Grayson was sacked by the now-defunct News of the World for fabricating a photograph of the Beast of Bodmin Moor in 1999.

Mahmood described Florim Gashi as "a convicted fraudster, who has been thoroughly discredited as a witness on a number of occasions in the criminal courts and cannot in way be considered reliable. Again significant evidence has been passed to the BBC to illustrate this."

The reporter continued: "Other witnesses they have interviewed include individuals who have been properly convicted by the courts of offences where I have exposed criminality.

"I hope the BBC will see sense and postpone any broadcast until the conclusion of any proceedings. I hope then that they will review and consider the evidence properly [and not threaten broadcast without the full facts] and stop the broadcast. This may be a vain hope.

"They are determined to condemn me, whatever the truth."