Legal arguments in the Max Mosley privacy case against the United Kingdom will be heard by European Court of Human Rights judges on 11 January at 9 a.m.
Relying on 8 (right to private life) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), Mosley complains that, despite the monetary compensation awarded to him by the courts following a legal victory over the News of the World newspaper, the United Kingdom failed to restore his privacy to him.
According to Mosley, the United Kingdom failed to impose a legal duty on the News of the World to notify him in advance of their intention to publish material concerning him thus giving him the opportunity to ask a court for an interim injunction and prevent the material’s publication.
Mosley v. the United Kingdom (Application no. 48009/08)
The applicant, Max Rufus Mosley , a British national, who was born in 1940 and lives in Monaco.
He is the son of Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists and is the former president of the International Automobile Federation, a non-profit association that represents the interests of motoring organisations and car users worldwide and is also the governing body for Formula One.
In March 2008, the Sunday newspaper News of the World published on its front page an article entitled “F1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers”.
The article’s opening sentence read: “Formula 1 motor racing chief Max Mosley is today exposed as a secret sadomasochistic sex pervert”. Several pages inside the newspaper were also devoted to the story which included still photographs taken from video footage secretly recorded by one of the participants in the sexual activities.
An edited extract of the video, in addition to still images, were also published on the newspaper’s website and reproduced elsewhere on the internet.
Following a complaint by Mr Mosley’s lawyers to the newspaper, it took the footage off its website on 31 March 2008 and agreed not to post it again without giving 24 hours’ notice. On 3 April 2008, the newspaper gave such a notice with a view to making the video available again on its site. Between 30 and 31 March 2008, the video was viewed over 1.4 million times, the online version of the article was visited over 400,000 times, and the print version of the newspaper circulated at the time with over three million copies.
On 4 April 2008, Mr Mosley brought legal proceedings against the newspaper claiming damages for breach of confidence and invasion of privacy. In addition, he sought an injunction to restrain the News of the World from making available on its website the edited video footage.
On 9 April 2008, the High Court refused to grant the injunction because the material was no longer private as it had been published extensively in print and on the Internet. In subsequent privacy proceedings before the High Court, the court found that the images did not carry any Nazi connotations. Consequently there was no public interest and thus no justification for publishing that article and accompanying images, which had breached Mr Mosley’s right to privacy. The court ruled that News of the World had to pay to Mr Mosley 60,000 GBP in damages.
The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 29 September 2008.