Former FIA president Max Mosley continues to pursue the right to privacy that he feels he was denied when sordid stories about his sex life appeared in the media two years ago, despite opposition to his legal crusade.
Mosley, who was replaced as president of motorsport's governing body by Jean Todt in 2009, found himself moving from the back pages to the main headline of the British tabloid press after reports of his involvement in 'a Nazi-themed orgy', and has since attempted to rewrite the UK's privacy laws by campaigning for the right of subjects to be notified before such allegations are made public.
"Mr Mosley's case is simple," his solicitors, Collyer Bristow, insisted, "Without an obligation to notify, a newspaper can publish information which irrevocably destroys a person's privacy. Even if publication is unlawful, the victim is left without an effective remedy. No court can remove the information from the public mind once it has been published. The damage is done - and it is permanent."
Although Mosley won damages of £60,000 against the News of the World
following its extended 'coverage' of the story, he has made it a personal campaign to see the law changed to prevent others from having to suffer the indignity of having their private lives revealed to the public.
"The only effective means of protecting privacy is to prevent publication and thus stop an illegal breach before it happens," Collyer Bristow's statement continued, "But you cannot do that if you don't know about it in advance. A legal action for breach of privacy after publication is not an effective remedy, [and] furthermore it attracts publicity which may worsen the victim's position. As a result, a victim very rarely sues. Our uniquely intrusive tabloid newspapers know that they can circumvent the individual's right to privacy by concealing their intention to publish, [and] it is only by compelling newspapers to notify those about whom they intend to publish private information, that the UK can fulfil its obligations under the Convention."
Mosley's bid to have the laws rewritten, however, have naturally faced opposition, with sections of the media claiming that enforcing the right to notification 'would have a truly draconian effect on the media acting in the public interest as an independent public watchdog'. According to journalism.co.uk
, the UK government has also contested Mosley's argument and called on the European court to rule his application 'inadmissible' as he 'is no longer a victim and has failed to exhaust all his domestic remedies'.