The mystery surrounding Notorious BIG's murder has deepened, after a key witness told authorities that most of the evidence he gave was "hearsay".

Since 2002, the late rap star's mother, VOLETTA WALLACE, has been pursuing a $20 million (GBP10.5 million) lawsuit against the LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT (LAPD) for allegedly failing to follow up leads in the case and possibly covering up an officer's involvement.

Police informant 'PSYCHO MIKE', who helped promote the belief that BIG was shot by an associate of rap mogul Marion 'Suge' Knight with the aid of a corrupt LAPD officer, said during a recent deposition in Voletta Wallace's suit that he was not telling the truth, according to the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

Mike admitted under oath that his story was "all hearsay". In addition to receiving money from the LAPD and several other law agencies investigating the shooting, Mike received time off his jail sentence in exchange for his information. He even picked out a picture of the alleged gunman, AMIR MUHAMMAD.

But he now acknowledges he made up large portions of his murder theory - even declaring that he considers himself a "lifelong paranoid schizophrenic".

Muhammad, who was an associate of a crooked former officer named DAVID MACK, was cleared and eventually dropped from the witness list in the civil suit.

While the LAPD is still probing the case, the FBI closed its 18 month investigation into the murder in January (05), ruling that the limited evidence provided "no basis for prosecution".

Notorious Big, real name CHRISTOPHER WALLACE, was gunned down in Los Angeles in 1997.

06/06/2005 02:45