Press reform campaigner Max Mosley donated £200k to fund Tom Watson's office

Tom Watson MP. Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall

Campaigner for tougher press regulation Max Mosley had donated £200,000 to “fierce” press critic and Labour deputy leader Tom Watson MP.

The money from the former F1 boss was paid through the Labour Party and revealed in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, published by the House of Commons this week.

Rival press regulator Impress, founded in 2013, is almost entirely funded by Mosley’s family, albeit indirectly, through the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust.

It provided £3.8m to cover the first four years of the regulator’s operation, paid through the Independent Press Regulation Trust – an arrangement which is set out in more detail here.

Mosley has been a campaigner for privacy and press reform since 2008 when he won £60,000 in damages from the now defunct News of the World over its coverage of his sex life.

It is not the first time Mosley has made a donation to the West Bromwich East MP. He paid Watson a total of almost £40,000 to back his successful campaign to become deputy Labour leader.

Max Mosley. Picture: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
Max Mosley. Picture: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

Both men have previously expressed support for campaign group Hacked Off, established in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

In 2014, Watson gave a speech at Hacked Off’s Second Leveson Anniversary Lecture where he addressed what he described as the “unfinished business” of press regulation reform.

Watson said: “As the [Leveson] Inquiry showed us, these are not organisations dedicated to holding power to account through journalism.

“That’s just the myth they propagate, the smokescreen they hide behind. They themselves, in my view, have become the power in this country.

“Look at the relationship between Rupert Murdoch’s company and the police if you want to see it. As Leveson showed us, this was so close that it was impossible to tell who was working for whom.

“All you could say was who they were working against: and that was the general public. You and me.”

He added: “The people who run the big press organisations and who edit the big papers led the way.

“They have operated like a Mafia, intimidating here, bribing there, terminating careers and rewarding their most loyal operatives and toadies.

“For years they could ‘fix’ any legislation that affected them, in a way that no other industry could.

“But it didn’t stop there. Their influence was so great that for many, it became impossible to know who was really running the country.”

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