The privacy and press regulation campaigner, Max Mosley, died of cancer on Sunday 23 May 2021 at the age of 81.  In 2008, after a long and distinguished career in motor sport, Mr Mosley was the subject of an invasive and libellous article in the  News of the World.

The article dealt with private sexual activity and was illustrated with intrusive images.  It made false and defamatory claims that the party it described was “Nazi themed”.  Mr Mosley successfully sued the News of the World in what became a leading privacy case, Mosley v News Group Newspapers [2008] EMLR 20.

Mr Justice Eady concluded that Mr Mosley

had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to sexual activities (albeit unconventional) carried on between consenting adults on private property. … 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”

He went on to say

there was no public interest or other justification for the clandestine recording, for the publication of the resulting information and still photographs, or for the placing of the video extracts on the News of the World website – all of this on a massive scale. Of course, I accept that such behaviour is viewed by some people with distaste and moral disapproval, but in the light of modern rights-based jurisprudence that does not provide any justification for the intrusion on the personal privacy of the Claimant” [233].

Damages of £60,000 – at that time the highest ever of privacy damages – were awarded.

Mr Mosley subsequently brought successful proceedings in several jurisdictions to have the images removed from the internet (including in  France and Germany).  His argument that there was an Article 8 right to pre-publication notification was rejected by the Court of Human Rights (Mosley v United Kingdom [2011] ECHR 774)

Over the next decade, Mr Mosley was a fearless, eloquent and clear sighted campaigner for privacy and independent press regulation.  He provided financial support for many victims of press abuse, both in the Leveson Inquiry and in the Courts.  His family trust supported the independent Leveson-compliant press regulator, IMPRESS.

Hacked Off, the campaign for a free and accountable press published this statement on Mr Mosley’s death:

Statement on the death of Max Mosley: “Max’s mission was to ensure that others would not suffer the same mistreatment as himself and his family”

Hacked Off extends its deepest condolences to the family of Max Mosley.

After a long career promoting motor sport and general motoring safety, Max devoted the last thirteen years of his life to campaigning for reforms to the regulation of the press after he was targeted by libellous coverage in the News of the World.  This coverage was believed by Max to have been a factor in the suicide of his son Alexander, in whose memory Max later established a Trust which has supported ethics and accountability in the press.

Newspapers attacked him on the basis of his father’s far right political views, which Max himself had disowned long ago.  He campaigned for the system of independent press regulation recommended by Lord Justice Leveson, which would have done much to counter the discrimination faced by minority communities in national newspapers every day.

Max’s mission was to ensure that others would not suffer the same mistreatment as himself and his family, and that mechanisms would exist to provide access to justice which was otherwise reserved for the wealthy.  Although this made him a target of intense press and political attacks, his commitment to reform on behalf of others remained undimmed.

It is thanks to his courage and generosity that the movement for a more ethical press remains so effective today.

Mr Mosley wrote pieces for Inforrm on several occasions including