Mosley on the march -- first Strasbourg, then the World

Max Mosley, the president of Formula One motor racing's governing body, has been in the news a great deal recently for his interest in governing bodies of a rather different sort (see IPKat posts here, here and here).

Right: Mosley, having had a whip-round, prepares for another brush with the law

The IPKat learns now from The Guardian that Mosley -- having cleverly sued for infringement of his right of personal privacy rather than for defamation after he was wrongfully stigmatised as a Nazi for his, er, unusual personal habits -- is to continue his challenge to the law of privacy by taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Mosley says that the £60,000 damages he received for some of the claims the News of the World newspaper (sic) made were not an adequate remedy; he wants a change in the law that will force editors to contact the subject of their revelations before publishing articles that could invade their privacy. Mosley, who first learned of the News of the World's exposure on the day the story was published, said the experience of going through the courts had a "very bad effect" on him and his family:

"I feel a great wrong has been done to me. Anyone who is a victim of this situation has to publicise all over again the very thing they are trying to keep private ... if I had been notified first, it wouldn't have necessarily stopped them publishing, but at least I could have challenged it in front of an independent person."
Mosley's battle is no longer against the News of the World but against the state. His legal team will argue that the law failed to protect Mosley's right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights because of the absence of any obligation on editors to inform their prospective prey before publication.

Although he is not normally sympathetic to Max Mosley, the IPKat feels that there is at least an arguable case for editors taking the sort of pre-publication he seeks, though he thinks it would be more effective for editors to come up with a voluntary code of practice that they could then implement, rather than allowing this issue to evolve painstakingly through what will probably be a series of actions and campaigns. Merpel says she disagrees. While the press got it wrong this time, they usually get it right -- and while the public has no need to know how public figures get their private thrills, the public does have an expectation that any political deviancy on the part of influential figures will be brought to their attention.

Mosley here
Molesey here
Mossley here
Muesli here
Whipping here
Mosley on the march -- first Strasbourg, then the World Mosley on the march -- first Strasbourg, then the <i>World</i> Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, October 08, 2008 Rating: 5


Anonymous said...

Could Herr Mosley have got an account of profits?

Jeremy said...

anonymous asks: "Could Herr Mosley have got an account of profits?" Not so easily -- this is a discretionary remedy and it would be very difficult to calculate the precise proportion of the newspaper's profit that was attributable to its infringement of Mosley's privacy.

Hugo Cox said...

There's obviously not much use in a privacy law which only allows victims to further publicize that which they would prefer to be private by revealing all in court. However, before editors can be placed under an obligation to notify before publication, English privacy law will require a wholesale review, not just a new obligation on editors. The extent of what is private is currently very uncertain - which does not sit well with regulation. The lack of clarity about what privacy law should protect creates two problems with a notification scheme: (a) in many cases, it will be unclear as to whether an editor was under an obligation to notify or not (and therefore whether he has failed to meet his obligations if he does not notify); (b) if editors do notify, the threshhold for a privacy injunction is low and the uncertainty in the law encourages judges choose to side with claimants.

Anonymous said...

Does the IPKat also think there is "an arguable case" that bloggers should have to seek approval pre-publication for any posts that "could invade privacy", or does he think different rules should apply to weblogs and newspapers?

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