Max Mosley knew there were moves afoot to uncover some salacious aspects about his private life, two months before the News of the World's damning front page expos? entitled 'F1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers', it has been claimed.

The disgraced FIA President - who earlier this month controversially won a vote of confidence in the FIA Senate on his future capability to rule the sport - was warned by long-time friend, ally and business associate Bernie Ecclestone that people had been hired to discredit him with an 'unlimited budget' to dig up some dirt, The Times has revealed.

In the wake of the sex scandal coming to light - the 'Nazi connotations' to which Mosley has always strenuously denied, and over which he is suing News Group Newspapers - the 68-year-old claimed he had been the victim of a 'covert investigation' into his private life by a 'group specialising in such things, for reasons and clients as yet unknown'.

Sources close to Mosley have also hinted that Ecclestone had perhaps been involved in a conspiracy to plot against him and bring him down, with the embattled president himself suggesting the sport's ringmaster and commercial rights-holder was trying to wrest political control of F1 away from the FIA. Now, however, an intelligence consultant close to Ecclestone has revealed that is far from the case.

Ecclestone was informed back in the third week of January - more than two months prior to the News of the World's front page splash - that Mosley was being targeted. He was notified by Dean Attew, a co-founder of London-based corporate intelligence company Titon International - in partnership with Major-General John Holmes, a former director of the UK Special Forces - and a man who used to work closely with Ecclestone for four years until 2004 and has in the past also advised Mosley.

Attew himself had been contacted by 'a friend' he claimed was representing people who wanted Mosley removed from office. Attew said he took the approach seriously and immediately related what he had been told to Ecclestone.

"In January this year I received a call from a friend," Attew said in an interview with The Times. "We had a meeting and I was approached and told there was an open budget to effectively go out and source material that would bring Max to his knees and, more importantly, remove him from office and discredit him publicly.

"During the conversation I said to the guy, 'What's your budget?' and he said, 'It's an open budget,' and I said, 'Okay, be specific here, are you after Max, are you after the FIA or are you after Bernie?' They then went back and they came back a little while later and said, 'We are not going to pursue it for the time being'.

"The person contacted me because they knew of my relationship with Bernie but did not know of my relationship with Max. The reason they contacted me was to find out whether I had any loyalty to Max and whether I knew anything of value.

"I sat down with Bernie and told him what I'd heard. Bernie then told Max - I know this because Max later confirmed this to me. Because of the relationship I have with both of them, and Max knowing who I was, I assumed the warning would be taken seriously."

Interestingly, Ecclestone is said to have re-assured Attew that Mosley had nothing to hide, referring to him as 'Mr Boring'. The 77-year-old reacted with complete incredulity when the tabloid revelations were made public, incensed by Mosley having chosen to ignore the warnings he had been given.

"When I sat down with Bernie I said to him, 'Is there anything anyone is going to find out about Max?'" Attew continued. "And Bernie said, 'Dean, you are not going to find anything because there's nothing there - he's Mr Boring in that sense'. Mosley had kept this a good secret."

Come 30 March, it was no longer a secret anymore, and two days later Attew contacted Mosley about the matter at Ecclestone's behest. During their phone call, Attew revealed Mosley had acknowledged having received warnings from both Ecclestone and another undisclosed person.

Attew was also keen to set the record straight about any possible involvement of Ecclestone in the episode, as well as expressing his own anger that Mosley's failure to heed the advice he had been given had allowed it to all come to this.

"I hear things about people suggesting Bernie was behind this, but that is ridiculous," he underlined. "From the very first indication Bernie and I, with Max's knowledge, have tried to find out who was the source.

"It was very clear that Max had disregarded both the advice he had been given and had failed to realise his vulnerability at that stage. The issue for me was his total disregard for genuine advice from individuals that he knew had his best interests at heart. When we saw what was in the News of the World, Bernie was as flabbergasted as I was."

Titon International previously hit the headlines back in 2006, when it emerged that murdered former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko had worked for the company as a consultant on Russian business. Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium-210, traces of which were found at Titon's Mayfair offices.