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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This man is not my grandpa

You know, as a sort-of-ish member of the journalistic profession (and not, the last time I checked, a fan of sadomasochism), I probably shouldn't be saying this: but one has got to admire Max Mosley.

In case we've forgotten (it's been a while)... The man was caught out by the tabloids in the most excruciatingly embarrassingly public way, with his pants around his ankles and a collective of grubby and slightly unsavoury prostitutes walloping him with riding crops and the like. So far, so what? Except for one detail: he is, as his name would suggest, related to a long-dead right wing fascist, and as such,the News of the World were desperate to stitch him up. In fairness, Mosley did quite a bit to help them, by getting aforementioned group of bottle-blonde lovelies to dress up in Nazi uniform and (if memory serves me correctly, as it usually does where peculiar sordid detail is concerned) pick imaginary fleas off him and shout fascistic nonsense at him. But whatever you think about the man's bedroom antics, it doesn't change the fact that there wasn't really much justification for the NOTW to come after him. Mosley certainly felt that way, anyway: he successfully sued the newspaper for printing the initial story and (would you believe the sheer front of the man!) has just taken his case to the European Court of Human Rights to seek a change in the law.

He lost, as one might expect, but as I say: He's got some brass neck, that Mosley. You can't help but admire him for not crawling, humiliated, back into bottom-spanking obscurity.

"This is just about whether the newspapers should have the right to publicise very private aspects of people's lives which there's no public interest in at all - it's just purely for titillation and to sell newspapers," he told the BBC.

Being walloped by a bunch of Nazi hookers is, I would hazard, an unusual way for a grown man to get his jollies, and doesn't exactly speak well of the morals of the man, but Mosley would hardly be the first middle-aged man to enjoy a bit of spanking. Taken in isolation, the facts of the case are really, when all is said and done, quite mundane. Before his tabloid 'expose', nobody had heard of Mosley, so one could not reasonably argue that his being dragged through the public gutter was in the public interest.
No: the reason why the NOTW wanted his scalp is not because of who THIS man is, but because of the man from whom he is descended - Oswald Mosley. When viewed through the strangely distorting eyes of the News of the Screws, Mosley deserved to be brought down because his old dad was a Nazi. And I'm afraid I can't agree with that.
The judge in Mosley's case said he had to protect the media's "right to freedom of expression". But the right to bring a person down because they don't like the politics of a person's family - and not, let's be clear, based on anything that the man himself has done, outside the confines of his own bedroom at least - is not a right that the tabloids should necessarily own, and to suggest that this agenda need 'protecting' is slightly sinister in its implication.

Ex-motorsports boss Max Mosley has lost his European Court of Human Rights bid to force newspapers to warn people before exposing their private lives.

He said the Strasbourg verdict was "disappointing" but he may appeal, to keep fighting for tighter privacy laws.

In 2008, the UK High Court awarded him £60,000 damages after ruling the News of the World invaded his right to privacy by reporting on his sex life.

Victory might have led to new privacy laws, which press bosses oppose.

Mr Mosley, 71, said of the judgement: "[I'm] obviously disappointed, but it's satisfying that they've been extremely critical of the News of the World.

"I think they've underestimated the danger from the UK tabloids but obviously they're the judges and one has to respect their decision."

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