10 March 2009

Max Mosley could still sue News of the World for libel

"You do this because you want to re-establish yourself and your family as proper people and if something like this happens it destroys the whole thing." 

By Paul McNally

Motorsport boss Max Mosley has said he will decide in the coming months whether to sue the News of the World for libel following its 'orgy' story last year.

The FIA president was giving evidence this morning to MPs on the cross-party culture media and sport select committee, which is investigating press standards.

Mosley, who won a £60,000 privacy payout from the News International tabloid last year, said he chose to sue on privacy grounds because it would be quicker than a full libel trial, which he was told could take up to two years.

But he said he believed he still had a case to sue for libel over a follow-up story published by the News of the World a week after its first story.

And he added that, if he decided not to stand for re-election as FIA president this summer and had the spare time, he would "relish" the opportunity to sue the paper.

"I think it would be difficult to sue for libel for the first edition which was about the Nazi allegation. The court might feel that I was overdoing it," he said.

"Where I could sue for libel was the second edition. They gave me five pages in the second Sunday saying I was a liar.

"That clearly is defamatory and the question arises about whether to sue them for that.

"That is under consideration. I will make my mind up definitely by the end of July."

He added: "There might be a perception that I was overdoing it. It would seem almost as if I was money-grabbing."

Mosley was asked by MPs why he used the legal system instead of the self-regulatory system administered by the Press Complaints Commission.

"It is absurd to have a body which is run by the journalists themselves," Mosley said of the PCC.

"It's like putting the mafia in charge of the local police station."

He added: "There has to be somebody independent looking at it."


Mosley described the News of the World as "purveyors of soft porn" and described the tabloid newspaper trade as a whole as "disgusting".

"They try to pretend that they publish serious articles about serious things," he said.

"It would be very interesting to know how many people whose privacy has been destroyed by the News of the World have committed suicide. I think it has happened.

"It is the most terrible thing what they do. The whole trade is disgusting."

The motorsport boss also revealed that, despite winning his privacy action, he had still been left out of pocket.

The paper was ordered to pay £420,000 of his legal costs but his total bill came to £500,000.

And he added: "If I lost my privacy action I would have ended up with a total bill of about £1m."

Mosley told the committee there should be no restrictions on investigative journalism.

Video here

He said: "If I were doing something wrong within the FIA or doing something wrong to do with Formula One, the press would have every right to publish it. That's what papers are for.

"But they shouldn't confuse that with wishing to publish things about someone's sex life."


Source: Press Gazette

On the Side


Culture, Media and Sport Committee: Meetings

Oral evidence session

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee will hold its second and third oral evidence sessions on Tuesday 10 March in relation to its inquiry into Press Standards, Privacy and Libel.

Date and Time: Tuesday 10 March, 2.45pm

Witness:

Gerry McCann

Clarence Mitchell

Adam Tudor, Carter Ruck solicitors

Location: Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.


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