World motorsport boss Max Mosley has won a legal action against a Sunday newspaper over claims an orgy he took part in had Nazi overtones.
The High Court ruled the News of the World did breach Mr Mosley’s privacy, awarding him £60,000 in damages.
I realise that the two cases aren’t legally equivalent—Mosley didn’t start an action for libel, even though the News Of The World lied about him—but there’s something grimly ironic about Mosley winning only three times as much for being wrongly accused of having Nazi tendencies than another businessman received in damages in the same week for being falsely portrayed as a gay Jew:
A businessman has won £22,000 libel damages from a school friend who made false accusations against him by creating a fake profile on Facebook, the social networking website.
The profile was on the site for 16 days until Mr Firsht’s brother spotted it and it was taken down by Facebook.
He was listed as “Looking for: whatever I can get” in terms of relationships. The creator of the bogus site also signed him up to to groups including “Gay in the Wood…Borehamwood” and “Gay Jews in London”.
Of course, in the wake of the Mosley judgement, the new libertarians are out in unselfconscious force. The editor of The News of the World himself, Colin Myler—editor of The Sunday Mirror when its reporting on Leeds footballers Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate resulted in the collapse of their trial for assault—declared: “our press is less free today after another judgment based on privacy laws emanating from Europe”. The Sun says: it’s “a dark day for British freedom”. The Daily Mail calls the law “palpably asinine” (at the same time as giving us a drive-by valuation of the judge David Eady’s house). Under the headline “Max Mosley verdict will stifle journalism”, Joshua Rozenburg in the Telegraph writes:
[T]he judgment is bound to have a chilling effect on investigative journalism. Newspapers will think twice before intruding on people’s privacy.
Oh woe! There was here a freedom.