Max Mosley loses privacy law appeal bid

Geoff Meade
Tuesday 27 September 2011 17:08 BST

Human rights judges have rejected an appeal by ex-Formula One boss Max Mosley against his failed bid to force a change in UK privacy laws.

In May a seven-judge panel of the Europen Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg threw out his demand for tougher laws forcing newspapers to warn people before exposing their private lives.

That would have a "chilling effect" on journalism, the judges warned.

Now a five-judge panel of the court's Grand Chamber has turned down his application for an appeal, saying the May judgment is final.

Mr Mosley said today: "The decision of the European Court of Human Rights in May of this year, which is now final, was made at a time when every British paper was attacking privacy law.

"Only now are we beginning to understand the extent to which personal privacy was routinely invaded by the News of the World and the consequences of such behaviour."

He went on: "My view remains that the requirement for prior notification is unanswerable. I am hopeful that the UK Government, by way of the various committees and inquiries, can find a regime for effective safeguards for personal privacy. This is certainly not the end of the road."

Mr Mosley - son of former British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley - won a case in the UK High Court in 2008, in a ruling declaring that there was no justification for a front-page article and pictures in the News of the World about his meeting with five prostitutes in a London flat.

The paper had suggested that the sexual activities had "Nazi overtones" - something dismissed by the court, which awarded him £60,000 in damages.

Then Mr Mosley took his case to Strasbourg to argue that "prior notification" should be compulsory for newspapers, to give their targets time to seek an injunction preventing publication.

He said that the media right under UK law to expose private behaviour without telling the "victim" breached his right to a private life, guaranteed by the Human Rights Convention.

But the Human Rights judges ruled that the right to freedom of expression - also guaranteed in the Convention - would be at risk if "pre-notification" was compulsory.

The Strasbourg verdict declared: "The European Convention on Human Rights does not require media to give prior notice of intended publications to those who feature in them."

Solicitor Mark Stephens, who represented Index on Censorship, the group campaigning for freedom of expression, welcomed the refusal to allow an appeal:

He said: "This decision by the Grand Chamber and the previous decision by the court underline the recommendation made by the UK parliament's Culture Media and Sport Committee. This is a great day for free speech in Britain and throughout Europe."

Index on Censorship news editor Padraig Reidy commented: "Index submitted its concerns about Mr Mosley's prior-notification plans as we recognised the threat such an obligation would pose to investigative journalism. While privacy is, of course, a concern, forcing newspapers to reveal stories would have a serious chilling effect."


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