Victory for Freedom of Speech Victory for Freedom of Speech; Euro Court Rejects Mosley's Bid to Impose New Constraints on Press
Byline: Steve Doughty Social Affairs Correspondent
MAX MOSLEY, the motor racing boss caught in a sado-masochistic orgy with prostitutes, failed in his bid to win new curbs on free speech yesterday.
His attempt to force newspapers to warn people well in advance before writing stories about their private lives was decisively rejected by the European Court of Human Rights.
The Strasbourg judges said a victory for Mr Mosley - son of the wartime fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley - would have had a 'chilling effect' on free expression and harm political and investigative reporting.
They said the right to a private life was already well-protected in Britain by a combination of self-regulation of the Press, recourse to civil court action and the use of interim injunctions, where appropriate.
They added that newspapers and their journalists were already aware of when stories could infringe the right to respect for private life.
Further restrictions, such as the obligation to notify people in advance, could not be justified.
However, the judges also declared that 71-year-old Mr Mosley was a victim of a 'flagrant and unjustified' breach of his privacy by the News of the World in its original expose of his sexual indiscretions. They endorsed the High Court decision to find in his favour and award him damages.
The European ruling puts a brake on the creeping privacy law.
In recent weeks, there has been growing disquiet over the way footballers, actors, and television stars have been allowed to cover up their sexual scandals while internet gossip has wrongly identified the innocent, including BBC sports presenter Gabby Logan and Jemima Khan, as the subject of so-called 'super-injunctions'.
The Daily Mail has long campaigned against the privacy rules imposed by London judges as a result of Labour's 1998 Human Rights Act.
For the first time in more than a century, the judge-made laws have censored in advance the publication of stories that are true.
Two years ago Paul Dacre, Editor of the Daily Mail and Editor-in-Chief of Associated Newspapers, told MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee that Mr Mosley's orgy 'exploited, degraded and humiliated' the women involved and the acceptance of his behaviour by the courts legitimised prostitution.
Yesterday Mr Dacre said: 'For Max Mosley, his inability to come to terms with his depraved and degenerate behaviour is a personal tragedy.
'For the free Press, this is a signal victory. And for the European court this is a rare, if welcome, expression of common sense and common decency.'
Mr Mosley told the BBC the orgy had involved adults in private. It had been 'an interlude' which was 'secret' and its exposure had harmed his wife and family. …