Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Max Moseley: Why I challenged 'Nazi orgy' story

Max Moseley (centre) arrives to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry at The Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London

Former Formula 1 boss Max Mosley took the News of the World to court for its "sick Nazi orgy" story about him because he was so keen to "demonstrate they were liars", he said today.

He proceeded with the High Court action despite being warned it would cost him dearly and bring his private information back into the public domain, he said.

Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, he said he had been told that if he lost the case, it could cost him £1 million or more and even if he won, it would still cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

He was also reminded that "taking the matter to court, the entire private information would be rehearsed again", he said.

But, he went on: "Taking all that into account, I thought what they have done is so outrageous I wanted to get these people into the witness box and demonstrate they were liars.

"And the only way to do this was to put up with this extremely unpleasant process."

Mr Mosley was the subject of a front-page article in the now-defunct Sunday tabloid on March 30 2008, alleging he took part in a "sick Nazi orgy" - something he strongly denied.

He was awarded a record £60,000 in privacy damages over the story.

But he was fortunate, he told the inquiry, in having enough money and a bit of legal knowledge to bring the action.

"I thought 'If I don't do it, who's going to?'," he said. "Because the number of people they pick on with a really bad case who have got the means to fight it is infinitesimally small.

"One of the terrible things is that unless you're very fortunate and happen to have a lot of money, you simply can't take this on, as things stand at the moment."

Mr Mosley also said the News of the World obtained a second story about him, on April 6 that year, "which purported to be an interview with woman E" - the dominatrix who secretly filmed the "orgy".

But this "interview" was not what it seemed, he told the inquiry.

"We found out Neville Thurlbeck (the reporter who broke the story) wrote the article beforehand, took it to Milton Keynes and asked her to sign this and intimated that if she didn't sign it, her picture would be published unpixellated."

The woman in question did not turn up to give evidence for the newspaper during the court case "because she wasn't prepared to perjure herself", he said.

Mr Mosley said he got the impression that after he challenged the story, the "entire resources of News International and News Group Newspapers" were deployed to try to "destroy me".

He said the story had been sent to the FIA (motor racing body) in the hope that they would "get rid of me". But he said he had won an FIA vote of confidence.

Mr Mosley said the News of the World story spread around the world via the internet.

He told the inquiry that litigation was going on in 22 or 23 countries, but said Germany was a priority.

Mr Mosley said his lawyers had the story removed from 193 sites in Germany and added: "Because of the Nazi thing, it got very much picked up in Germany."

He said he had begun proceedings against search engine Google in France and Germany.

"The fundamental thing is that Google could stop this appearing but they don't or won't as a matter of principle," he said. "The really dangerous things are the search engines."

Mr Mosley said tabloid newspapers used an "outdated" view of morality to justify attacking people with unconventional sexual tastes.

He said: "The problem is that if you could breach privacy merely because you disapproved of what someone was doing or it was not to your taste, you would be all over the place.

"Because sexual behaviour covers a huge variety of things, and when you start analysing it, what I might like someone else might hate, and vice-versa, so where would it stop?

"The rational thing is to say that provided it's adults and provided it's in private and provided everybody consents, genuinely consents, then it's nobody else's business."

He went on: "The idea that it's in some way the function of tabloid journalists to pillory people whose taste may be unusual is completely outdated.

"If that had not disappeared, we would still be persecuting homosexuals, the gay community would be at risk, or anybody else."

Mr Mosley told the inquiry that his reputation would never recover from the story published by the News of the World.

"However long I live now, that is the number one thing that people think of when they hear my name," he said.

Mr Mosley said one woman involved in the News of the World story had a camera hidden on her lapel and the newspaper had carried out a "rehearsal".

"They had a rehearsal where Thurlbeck showed her how to fit it and how to work it," said Mr Mosley.

"(Mr Thurlbeck said), 'When you get to the Sieg Heil, get him to stand back about three metres so you get it all in shot'.

"It was very clear to me that Thurlbeck was trying to set the whole thing up from the beginning as a Nazi thing."

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