The judge who presided over Max Mosley's High Court privacy action against the News of the World in the summer made 'arrogant and amoral' rulings that have 'inexorably and insidiously' reduced the freedom of the media, a leading national newspaper editor has claimed.

The FIA President was awarded ?60,000 in damages for the Sunday tabloid's front page expos? about his private life back in March, after Judge Mr Justice Eady 'decided that the claimant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to sexual activities (albeit unconventional) carried on between consenting adults on private property'.

Moreover, he ruled that there was no evidence to back up the red-top's claims of 'Nazi connotations' and that there had been no justification for the invasion of privacy that had occurred [see separate story - click here].

Mosley has since approached the European Court of Human Rights in an effort to see stricter privacy laws implemented and newspapers obliged to notify individuals - be they either private or public - before publishing potentially highly damaging or hurtful articles about their private lives.

Daily Mail editor and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, Paul Dacre, however, has accused Judge Justice Eady of attempting to silence British newspapers by using the 'wretched' Human Rights Act 'to curb the press' freedom to expose the moral shortcomings of those in high places', reports The Times.

"[Justice Eady] effectively ruled that it was perfectly acceptable for the multi-millionaire head of a multi-billion sport that is followed by countless young people to pay five women ?2,500 to take part in acts of unimaginable sexual depravity with him," Dacre argued in a speech to the Society of Editors' annual conference in Bristol.

"Most people would consider such activities to be perverted, depraved, the very abrogation of civilised behaviour of which the law is supposed to be the safeguard. Not Justice Eady. To him such behaviour was merely 'unconventional'.

"Nor in his mind was there anything wrong in a man of such wealth using his money to exploit women in this way. Would he feel the same way, I wonder, if one of those women had been his wife or daughter?

"What is most worrying about Justice Eady's decisions is that he is ruling that - when it comes to morality - the law in Britain is now effectively neutral, which is why I accuse him, in his judgments, of being 'amoral'."

Judge Justice Eady found support, however, from former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer of Thoroton, one of the key New Labour players behind the Human Rights Act 1998, who told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the judge had simply been interpreting a law passed by Parliament and that any decisions could subsequently be taken to the Court of Appeal.

"The judge is unquestionably applying the law as it comes from Parliament, as interpreted by the senior courts, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords," Lord Falconer stated.