Mosley wins privacy court case

 

Motor racing chief Max Mosley won damages in a British court today after a judge ruled a tabloid newspaper had violated his privacy by publishing details of his part in a sado-masochistic orgy.

Mr Mosley, president of Formula One's governing body, did not deny taking part in the German-themed sex session with five prostitutes, but he said his privacy was violated by The News of the World'sreporting of it.

Justice David Eady, siding with Mr Mosley, said in a written judgement he had a "reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to sexual activities (albeit unconventional) carried on between consenting adults on private property".

He awarded Mr Mosley £60,000 pounds (€76,200) in damages and said the newspaper should pay his legal costs - estimated at £450,000.

Mr Mosley welcomed the ruling, saying: "This shows that they have no right to go into private premises and take pictures and films of adults engaged in activities that are no one's business but those of the people concerned."

The case was closely watched by media lawyers, newspapers and celebrities as it carried the potential to set a new benchmark for privacy, deterring the media from excessive intrusion into the lives of high-profile figures.

But the judge said he did not see his ruling as a landmark, saying it merely followed existing privacy law.

Mr Mosley (68) brought the case earlier this month, saying the newspaper, which published pictures showing him being spanked by women dressed as prison guards, was responsible for a "gross and indefensible intrusion of his private life".

The News of the Worldhad claimed Mr Mosley, the son of Britain's 1930 Fascist leader Oswald Mosley, was involved in Nazi-style role-playing and that the sex session was an example of "true depravity" not just harmless "hanky spanky".

Giving evidence during the case, the motorsport boss confessed to having had a penchant for sado-masochism from an early age but dismissed any suggestion of a Nazi fetish. He said he could think of few things more unerotic given his family history.

The News of the World'scontention of a Nazi element to the orgy fell apart when its star witness, a prostitute married to an MI5 agent who secretly filmed the event, failed to turn up to give evidence. She had been expected to say that Mr Mosley had requested a Nazi theme.

The other four prostitutes involved in the orgy denied any Nazi element.

After the story emerged, Mr Mosley faced pressure to quit his job but held on after winning a confidence vote at an extraordinary general assembly of the International Automobile Federation, Formula One's governing body.

In court, he revealed that his wife of 48 years had had no idea about his sado-masochistic fetish. He said he had frequently paid up to £2,500 a time to have prostitutes beat, whip and humiliate him.

In his ruling, Judge Eady said that the law in breach of privacy was concerned to protect such matters as personal dignity, autonomy and integrity - rather than injury to reputation as in libel.

He said: “One should be careful not to dismiss matters going to personal dignity because a particular sexual activity or inclination itself may seem undignified.

“After all, sexual activity is rarely dignified.”

Reuters