Formula 1 president Mosley denies S&M orgy was 'depraved or immoral'

The issue of press freedom versus the rights of the individual collided at the High Court this week with the glamorous world of motor racing and the murkier world of sado-masochism.

Max Mosley, son of the former fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley and head of Formula One stood in Court 13 on Monday to justify what he said was a 45-year involvement in the S&M ‘scene’and his right to privacy.

It was the first trial day of his claim for ‘exemplary damages’against the News of the World following its report that the 68-year-old took part in a ‘Nazi-themed’orgy.

In what may prove to be a landmark privacy battle, Mosley is suing the NoW over a 31 March splash headed ‘F1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with five hookers”.

He does not dispute claims that he indulged in sado-masochism with the five women in a Chelsea flat but argues that there was no Nazi element to the £2,500 sex session, that nothing illegal or immoral took place and because the event was behind closed doors and he was not a widely known public figure, there was no justifiable public interest.

Impassive in a charcoal suit and sober tie he told the court: ‘I definitely disagree with the suggestion that any of this is depraved or immoral’adding that it was a ‘perfectly harmless act between consenting adults.”

James Price, QC for Mosley, said that it was a case of ‘Article 8 versus Article 10’– two key elements of The European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 8 ensures that everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and correspondence. It is the same piece of legislation that has been used by other celebrities, including Princess Caroline of Monaco and Naomi Campbell, against perceived media intrusion.

Article 10 ensures that everyone has the right to freedom of expression.

Price said publication of the news story was a ‘gross and indefensible intrusion’on Mosley’s public life ‘made substantially worse by shocking and various accusations’including that Mosley played at being a concentration camp guard.

‘Justification was supposedly the concentration commandant and Nazi death camp role play. We say no reasonable person could have seen any Nazi aspect. That was the finding of the FIA [Federation Internationale de l’Automobile] and we invite you to find the same conclusion.”

No reference to gas chambers

Price said the filmed session started with a voice saying ‘ ‘Welcome to Chelsea’ – presumably the well-known Chelsea death camp”. He went on to describe how one of the alleged concentration camp guards was called ‘Smith’and there were ‘no references to any gas chambers, SS, Gestapo or anything like that.”

Pointing out that 3.5 million people had seen the secretly filmed sex session on the NoW website Price said: ‘This should not happen again and newspapers need to be taught that disregard of the rights of others does not pay.”

Mark Warby, QC for News Group Newspapers, said there were limits to expectations for respect of privacy and the activities under examination were ‘not deserving of respect.”

‘Whipping or beating a person until he bleeds is a criminal activity which amounts to wounding. The fact that someone consents is not a defence.

‘Sado-masochistic cruelty is contrary to fundamental human values. Society, through its laws, draws a line at causing a person injury through sexual gratification.”

‘He is the son of the fascist leader of the 1930s. He supported his father’s party when in his twenties. Is it of legitimate interest to the public that there has been brutality, criminality and fantasies about Nazi role play?’asked Mr Warby.

The case continues.

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