Max Mosley: Journalists who breach privacy deserve jail

Max Mosley uses a BBC1 Panorama documentary tonight to call for prison sentences for journalists who seriously breach people’s privacy.

The motorsport boss attracted international notoriety when the News of the World published footage of him in an S&M orgy with prostitutes last year.

But the 69-year-old was eventually awarded a record £60,000 in privacy damages against the newspaper.

Speaking on a Panorama documentary on the press and privacy tonight, Mosley will say: “At the moment the tabloid editor decides if he is going to destroy your life or not. And he thinks he should decide that.

“They’ve destroyed a family, ruined a life and done so simply to sell some of their newspapers. And I think that is utterly wrong.

“And certainly if they do this in a country where the laws say they can go to prison they should go to prison.”

But others argue that celebrities and public figures use privacy legislation to suppress stories and photographs that show them in a bad light.

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop told the programme that what Mosley was suggesting was “very dangerous”.

He told Panorama: “If you’re rich and powerful, privacy’s the new libel, and much easier.

“You don’t have to prove it isn’t true, you just have to prove that it’s private by your definition.

“And in some of the cases the definition of privacy is pretty weak.”

Mark Oaten MP, whose affair with a male prostitute was revealed by a Sunday newspaper, appears tonight as a surprising advocate of press freedom.

He said: “I’ve obviously thought long and hard about whether the News of the World were justified in invading my privacy and I think at the end of the day they probably were.”

EastEnders stalwart Barbara Windsor said: “What a lot of people in my business expect is that they can switch it on and off. Well, you can’t do that, no.”

But Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty, who is currently awaiting trial charged with dangerous driving after a gig, likened paparazzi to concentration camp guards.

“Outside Amy Winehouse’s house it was murder – it was like London Zoo really,” he said.

“It doesn’t make for a comfortable scene, it’s really weird, it’s dark, twisted, ugly world.”

Doherty added: “This is going to sound really extreme, [but] even the people who were shovelling bodies into the gas chambers would just say they were just obeying orders and just doing their job.

“If your actions as individuals are directly having a negative effect on someone else’s life you can’t say ‘I’m doing my job’.

“You’re not just doing your job, you’re doing your job and f***ing up someone’s else’s head and making life painful for someone else, you know.”

Panorama: The Death of Kiss and Tell airs at 8.30pm tonight on BBC1.

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