The case of Max Mosley versus the News of the World kicks off on Monday in what promises to be a landmark privacy battle.
Mosley, president of the powerful International Automobile Association, will argue that pictures and a video of him taking part in what the NoW called a ‘sex Nazi orgy’with prostitutes earlier this year were private.
Lawyer Rupert Grey, of Swan Turton, said: ‘Even if Mosley loses the public interest argument, which is where the main battle will be fought, there is a fair chance that the boundaries will move deeper into tabloid territory.
‘The essential question is whether what a man does with his sex life in a private space is his own business, which is not the way the NoW sees it.”
Grey said that media lawyers and journalists should take interest in how, if successful, Moseley’s damages are assessed. Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley received £55,000 in a notable privacy case, but ‘that does not begin to compare with what Mosley has been through,’he said.
Legal manager for News International Tom Crone said: ‘We will say that vice is vice. This is someone who is a public figure, who is elected and a leading figure in terms of his influence in the worldwide sport of Formula One. He has enormous power and access, and we say this story is a matter of public interest in the same way, it would be with an MP.”
The trial, which will be heard in public, is set to last for two weeks.
On Tuesday lawyers for NoW lost a bid to strike out Mosley’s claim for ‘exemplary damages”.