David Rawlinson on the Max Mosley case
THE sensational reporting in the News of the World of the alleged “Nazi orgy” participated in by Max Mosley has caused great public interest.
The fact that Mr Mosley pursued an action for breach of privacy has fascinated readers almost as much as the allegations.
It is clear from Mr Justice Eady’s decision he found no justification that the orgy had Nazi overtones. This was significant. The judge said that, had the evidence been such that it did, then that might have changed the decision because it was a factor which the safety organisation FIA would probably need to take into account in view of Mr Mosley’s position within it.
One might be forgiven for thinking there had been a sudden change in the law, but the judge has done no more than follow the existing line of so-called “privacy” cases, all based on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to a private life, which must be balanced against the right of the press to freedom of expression under Article 10. Those cases include Naomi Campbell, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.
The common factor seems to be that the courts will protect the press in uncovering, for example, Naomi Campbell’s drug problems, but draw the line at infringing privacy by taking photographs or films.
It may be a question of whether the press is prepared to risk the profit from the extra turnover their “exclusive” is likely to produce against the damages likely to be awarded if they get it wrong.
DAVID RAWLINSON is a partner at Halliwells