FIA President Max Mosley has admitted that he can 'never replace' the dignity he lost following the News of the World's salacious front page expos? about his private life just under a year ago, as he threatened to sue the newspaper for libel.

The sport was rocked by the Sunday tabloid's headline 'F1 boss in sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers' last March, with some calling for Mosley to resign from his position - the most powerful in international motor racing. Though he ultimately held onto his job, the 68-year-old has acknowledged that his reputation will never fully recover from the blow.

"I was horrified," he is quoted as having said by Sky News, confessing that the article had come 'completely out of the blue'. "It had never happened to me fortunately, but it felt like coming through your front door and everything in the house had been removed by thieves.

"I was shocked, annoyed, angry and outraged. If someone takes away your dignity, you will never replace it. No matter how long I live or where in the world I am, people know about it."

Mosley added that he had partaken in sado-masochistic parties for 45 years without ever fearing that his actions would come to public recognition in the way that they did, and he revealed that he only knew of the existence of the story when a friend notified him and told him he should go out and buy the 'paper.

"It's not that I am ashamed of it in that I'm not ashamed of my bodily functions," he underlined, "but I don't want them on the front of a newspaper.

"It's not even talked about outside the circles. You would never tell someone who was not part of that world. Nobody knew - my closest friend didn't know; my wife didn't know."

The Englishman was awarded a record ?60,000 from the News of the World in a High Court damages suit last year - reputedly costing the publication ?1 million - after it was proven that the 'Nazi' claims had been fabricated, and he is currently also embroiled in legal proceedings in France, where the newspaper is similarly published. However, the length of time a libel action would likely take in the UK would preclude Mosley from standing again for the role of President of the FIA when his current fourth term expires in October.

"In the second edition [of the paper publishing the story], when I denied there was a Nazi element, they said I was telling a lie," the son of former Fascist leader Oswald Mosley is quoted as having said by The Times, adding that there were 'arguments both ways' regarding pursuing the libel route and that 'what I don't want to do is appear as a bully'.

"That is quite clearly defamatory, so the question arises of whether I will sue for libel. We are quite likely to use a conditional fee arrangement, because the chances of success are quite high."

"I don't think a judge would grant an injunction if there was a serious investigation," he reasoned, before accusing 'red-tops' of 'abusing the freedom of the press...publishing details of somebody's private life that are only of interest to him and his wife'.

In a speech before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport [see separate story - click here], Mosley - who is bidding to get the law changed to protect victims of tabloid stings - proposed a new legislation whereby editors are legally bound to pre-notify the subjects they intend to expose so that a prior injunction against publication may be sought.

There is at present no formal privacy law in Britain, though it is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees respect for privacy and family life.

"We allow tabloid editors, without any sanction, to bypass the law and put the victim in a position where there is no remedy," he argued. "In a libel action a victim can be vindicated. In a privacy action all a judge can do is say 'it shouldn't have been published'.

"If I were doing something wrong within the FIA or doing something wrong to do with Formula 1, 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."

'We believe the impact of our experience and our way forward following the Max Mosley legal ruling have helped define the nature of modern tabloid reporting in Britain,' read a News of the World statement. 'Its significance is not that we lost the ensuing court case, but that we were prepared to fight for our readers' right to be told what Mosley - the elected president of a body with 125 million members - was doing.'



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