Leading article: Private lives

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The Independent Online

It is judgement day for Max Mosley. The fate of the president of the world motor body, the FIA, will be decided by a vote of confidence in Paris by the organisation's members. His prospects of survival do not look promising. A number of FIA-affiliated associations have demanded that Mr Mosley step down. Several auto manufacturing firms have voiced their concerns at his remaining in post. And even Bernie Ecclestone, the most powerful man in Formula 1 racing, has called for the head of his old friend and business partner.

Mr Mosley is an eminently dislikeable character. He has shown himself, in the past, to be a snob of the most odious sort. He supported his fascist father, Sir Oswald, far more keenly than the bonds of filial loyalty demanded. And a question mark hangs over whether his talents justified his rise to such an eminent position in motoring circles.

But despite all that, Mr Mosley is as entitled as anyone else to a private life. The only reason his position is in jeopardy is because of a set-up orchestrated by a downmarket Sunday newspaper. It was the sort of act of sexual entrapment used to compromise public figures in the days of the Cold War.

Mr Mosley is an unsympathetic character, to put it mildly. But do we wish to live in a world where only the virtuous among us can have a reasonable expectation of freedom from entrapment?

The answer must be no; and that reason (and that alone) is why Mr Mosley should retain his job today.