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Media & Communications Law

Record Privacy Win for Formula One Boss re False Nazi Orgy Claims

Posted Jul 24, 2008 2:12 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Max Mosley, the head of Formula One racing, has won a record $119,021 in damages in a British privacy case, over a News of the World article that falsely claimed he had participated in Nazi-themed orgies, acting in the role of a concentration camp prisoner.

"A judge ruled that there was 'no evidence' that two orgies in which he took part had any Nazi theme," reports the London Times, noting that Mosley says he is delighted with the court victory. "The tabloid had claimed that the son of the wartime fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley had developed an unhealthy addiction to sadomasochism, spending £75,000 ($148,765) a year on violent orgies," the Times notes.

The News of the World had claimed, when it published news of Mosley's extracurricular activities, that they were a matter of public concern because of his Formula One leadership role. However, Mr. Justice Eady of the High Court said the British tabloid recklessly ignored Mosley's right to privacy and was pursuing financial gain from soaring readership over the exclusive story rather than legitimate journalism, the Times writes.

Despite public disapprobation of what the judge described as "typical" S & M behavior, including bondage, beating and domination, Mosley "had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to sexual activities, albeit unconventional, carried on between consenting adults on private property," the judge said in his ruling.

Previously, the record high damages in a British privacy case was £14,600 ($28,968) awarded to celebrities Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas over Hello magazine's unauthorized use of their 2003 wedding photos.

Additional coverage:

News of the World: "Mosley: Your right to know"

News of the World: "Statement from Colin Myler, Editor of the News of the World"

Telegraph: "Max Mosley Nazi prostitute orgy case: profile of Mosley"

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