Court rejects Rubython bid for grand prix pass

Rubython: “very,very angry”

Tom Rubython lost his High Court bid for press accreditation to gain access to the Australian Grand Prix.

He faces costs of around £15,000 and is now planning to make a formal complaint to the European Commission about the “behaviour” of the Formula One governing body, the FIA, and its president Max Mosley.

Rubython embarked on legal action after his new magazine, Business F1, was denied access to the grand prix on the grounds it did not have a high enough circulation. He claimed he was being victimised for commercial reasons because the organisers of F1 saw him as a “threat”.

The injunction was refused principally because the FIA argued it was domiciled in Paris and not subject to a British court’s jurisdiction. Rubython’s attempts to overturn this by reference to the Human Rights Act were also rejected by the judge.

“The FIA hid behind its domicile and managed to argue successfully that a British court had no jurisdiction over it,” Rubython said.

“I am very, very angry the FIA has taken the action it has. To refuse me accreditation is simply ridiculous. The outcome of my case will affect journalists everywhere. I am determined to succeed.”

Sources say that the ban created a great deal of amusement at the grand prix in Melbourne as Rubython had upset many of the teams by taking a controversial stance when he edited Bernie Ecclestone’s F1 Magazine.

Rubython now has to pursue the case in the Paris court that has jurisdiction and he is seeking NUJ backing to support his complaint to the EC.

“I didn’t want to pursue the legal route in the first place but now I have to,” he said. He claimed the ban had already resulted in extra travel and photography costs for the magazine. “We have got to be clever enough to do it without going to the races,” he said. “The publicity we got within the motor racing arena was quite good but we have got to win this battle.” FIA director of communications Richard Woods said: “As a new magazine with a very low circulation, it simply did not fall within our criteria for accreditation and the application was refused. Tom seemed to take the attitude that he was automatically entitled to a pass and decided to take the FIA to court seeking an injunction to force the issue.

“The court dismissed Tom’s request for an injunction on a number of grounds and ordered him to pay the FIA’s costs.”

By Ruth Addicott

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