APRIL 9, 2008
What the court decided
Max Mosley took on News Group Newspapers Ltd in London, hoping for an injunction to stop the News Of the World newspaper using video footage of Mosley's sexual activities, with Mr Justice Eady presiding. The case revealed that the News of the World voluntarily removed the footage from its website on March 31. For the first time there was official confirmation that Mosley does not dispute that the events occurred, although he claims that this was a private matter and that the public display of these activities were contrary to his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states that "everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence" and that "there shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others".
The judge agreed that Mosley had a right to invoke this clause.
Mosley's only challenge to the News of the World claim, apart from the question of privacy, was the suggestion that the activities constituted Nazi role-playing. The judge was keen to point out that his ruling was based solely on the question of privacy. He said that could not reach a conclusion on other matters. He said that "it is accepted that a quasi-prison environment is part of the "S and M' scenario, but it is said not to be representative of Nazism in particular. Mr Mosley may well be right about all this, but obviously I could not restrain the allegations or verbal descriptions of what took place. If the matter were to come to trial, it may be that the court will in due course hold that there is nothing in the allegations of Nazi role-play - as opposed merely to examples of dominance, submission and punishment in an "S&M" context".
The judge added that "a relevant consideration here is whether there is a public interest in revealing the material which is powerful enough to override Mr Mosley's prima facie right to be protected in respect of the intrusive and demeaning nature of the photographs. I have little difficulty in answering that question in the negative. The only reason why these pictures are of interest is because they are mildly salacious and provide an opportunity to have a snigger at the expense of the participants".
On the question of the alleged Nazi theme the judge said that "I do not consider that the edited footage shows, convincingly, that his denial is false. But, even if it is capable of being so construed, there is nothing to prevent the News of the World reasserting, with whatever prominence it thinks appropriate, that there was Nazi role-play. Accordingly, if there is any case for saying that Mr Mosley's denials have, in any way, misled the public, and that the record should therefore be put straight for that reason, the objective can be achieved effectively without displaying the edited footage of bottoms being spanked."
He concluded that "the material is so widely accessible that an order in the terms sought would make very little practical difference... There is, in practical terms, no longer anything which the law can protect. The dam has effectively burst. I have, with some reluctance, come to the conclusion that although this material is intrusive and demeaning, and despite the fact that there is no legitimate public interest in its further publication, the granting of an order against this respondent at the present juncture would merely be a futile gesture".
All this may be vaguely interesting for the motorsport world, but it does not detract from the belief that the Mosley Scandal, and Mosley's refusal to resign, has done the sport no good at all.