Feeds

Cheque-red flag for Max Mosley

News of the World organises whip-round to pay damages

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

So the dust has settled, Max Mosley has won his case, and UK privacy law advances a further notch. Does this make any difference at all to the El Reg readers – apart from those few who get their jollies from dressing up in strange uniforms and whipping one another at the weekend?

The answer, as with most things legal, was probably, almost certainly, maybe yes.

Let’s start with some background. Earlier this year, the News of the World reported that Max Mosley, President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, enjoyed nothing better than to get together at the weekend with fellow sado-masochists – or “hookers” as the NOTW described them - and to engage in a little light spanking.

Spice was added to an already salty tale with the allegation that one such party involved Mosley dressing up as a Nazi and re-enacting scenes from life in a concentration camp. If true, it would be an example of extreme journalistic serendipity, that the son of the one-time leader of the British Fascist tendency should get his kicks in this way.

Unfortunately for the NOTW, Mr Mosley then diverted from the approved script. He did not deny the central charges. But neither did he fall on his sword, express shame, regret, or any similarly clichéd emotion, or skulk off into hiding, thus enabling his accusers to claim a moral victory. He also flatly denied the Nazi element.

Instead, he reached for his lawyers. In France, he started a still incomplete libel action. In the UK, he began an action citing Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) - "Right to respect for private and family life". In its defence NOTW cites Article 10 - "Freedom of expression".

Two rights make a...

The working out of what lawyers refer to as the “parallel analysis” – i.e., reconciling two apparently irreconcilable sets of rights – is likely to have profound effects for all of us.

Although the Press Complaints Commission Code makes much of respect for privacy, there is not actually any such right in English Law. Nor is there any specific law on privacy. Successive governments have raised their heads over the parapet, noted that only grief lay on the other side, and backed off from new legislation on the subject.

However, since the passage of the HRA, there has been a gradually emerging tort – grounds for civil action – of “Breach of Confidence”, otherwise known as “Breach of Privacy”. Critics of this process object to the idea of “judge-made law – although in practice that is how a great deal of English Law has been made.

More serious is the charge that this law is developing on the back of a number of atypical, high profile celeb cases: for instance, the now oft-cited Naomi Campbell vs. MGN.

So to what extent is what Max Mosley gets up to in private, private? According to Justice Eady, who gave his verdict in this case today: "the Claimant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to sexual activities (albeit unconventional) carried on between consenting adults on private property. I found that there was no evidence that the gathering on 28 March 2008 was intended to be an enactment of Nazi behaviour or adoption of any of its attitudes.

"Nor was it in fact. I see no genuine basis at all for the suggestion that the participants mocked the victims of the Holocaust."

Oh: and £60,000 in damages, please. Next!

Application security programs and practises

Next page: Privates on Parade

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know
What do you mean, we've ditched Redmond in favour of IBM?!
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.