Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Whatever you do, it's probably best not to overdo it

Related Topics

"There might be a perception I was over doing it," Max Mosley said, explaining his caution about taking the News of the World into court for a second time. He was keen not to overdo it. "My father overdid it," he explained and it hadn't worked out so well. True, fascists did overdo things in those days. As a matter of fact, I once saw film of Oswald Mosley overdoing it in front of 20,000 British fascists in Olympia in 1937. He made Barack Obama sound like Val Doonican. It was then I stopped listening to soaring rhetoric. I'd felt a prickle, you see. It was like listening to Lucifer.

So, with a father like that, and a mother like Diana Mitford (they married in Goebbels's house, we learnt) it isn't surprising you grow up with unresolved tensions. And if you view his activities as a form of therapy interrogating these tensions then you can see the force in an argument for privacy. Maybe you think I'm overdoing it now.

But if you wanted a privacy law you'd buy one from Max Mosley. He is the sort of English gentleman that we don't see much any more. Quiet, careful, intelligent, steely underneath but modest, if that's the right word, in his peculiar situation.

"Do people snigger behind your back?" he was asked. "No, they are too dignified," he said. Damn! I struck out an entire sketch I'd prepared earlier.

His argument was based in part on the paper's confession in court: they'd tried to blackmail one of the women, threatening her with exposure if she didn't support their evidence. He said the dominion of tabloid editors was "a tyranny of semi-criminal people". Yes, and "the more they are examined the more evil they become". Despite the judgement in his favour, the paper had used the story to support their application to be Newspaper of the Year. They had been chastised but were not chastened.

Without wanting to be vindictive, Mr Mosley thought that a fine of 10 per cent of their turnover would attract their attention. It's what my earlier sketch called punitive damages.

He also wanted newspapers to be obliged to give people a full working day to apply for an injunction. It didn't seem unreasonable, the way he put it. Once your privacy has gone you can't get it back again.

The Press Complaints Commission was a) powerless and b) run by the people it was supposed to be regulating. "Like the mafia running a police station," he said.

Yes, no doubt. But would a privacy law allow Alan Keen, sitting there on the Culture committee, to claim £175,000 of double mortgage allowance from the taxpayer without it being reportable?

Probably it would. So we have to be careful with privacy. We don't want to overdo it.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page


General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk