Mosley launches groundbreaking breach of privacy action
Motorsport boss Max Mosley tomorrow launches a groundbreaking breach of privacy action against the News of the World over what it called a “sick Nazi orgy”.
The two-week case at London’s High Court will focus on sexual activity which took place in the basement of a London private flat between the 68-year-old president of the FIA and five prostitutes.
News Group Newspapers ran the story in March under the heading “F1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers” and put an extract of a video of the encounters on its website, which was viewed 1,424,959 times before it was removed.
It is strongly contesting the action, which includes an unprecedented claim in a privacy case for exemplary or punitive damages as well as compensatory damages, and will argue that publication was justified in the public interest.
Mr Mosley has said that he would donate any damages he received to the FIA Foundation, which promotes motorsport safety and the environment.
At an earlier hearing, Mr Justice Eady, who is trying the action without a jury, said: “The session seems to have been devoted mainly to activities which were conveniently described as ’S and M’. They lasted for several hours. The very brief extracts which I was shown seemed to consist mainly of people spanking each other’s bottoms.
“There is also a scene in which Mr Mosley was pretending to have his head examined for lice.
“This appears to have been part of acting out a prison fantasy, in which he is described as having come from another ’facility’. This is because notions of restraint and punishment are integral to this type of sexual activity.”
Mr Mosley, the son of the 1930s’ Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, does not deny that the events occurred, but maintains that they were private, and hotly disputes the newspaper’s characterisation of his activities as “Nazi role-play”.
The judge is expected to reserve his decision on liability before, if necessary, ruling on the issue of damages in what he described as “an area of developing jurisprudence”.
Tom Crone, Legal Manager of the News of the World, said: “In advance of the trial, the News of the World will not be commenting on evidential matters.
“We believe that a healthy society respects the public’s right to know legitimate facts about the behaviour and activities of public figures and leaders.
“This case raises fundamental issues about the rapidly advancing Law of Privacy and the extent to which it allows powerful people to suppress information and stifle free speech.
“Whilst the law was properly introduced to guarantee respect for private and family life, it is in danger of being hijacked by the rich, famous and influential for all the wrong reasons.
“The scale and ramifications of this case go way beyond this single story and are likely to affect every form of media from print to broadcast and particularly publishers of biographies of living people.”