Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 15:50 UK

Newspaper defends Mosley article

Max Mosley
Max Mosley says his life was devastated by the article

The editor of the News of the World has defended the publication of details of a sadomasochistic session involving motorsport boss Max Mosley.

Colin Myler told the High Court the role-play, which included Mr Mosley being caned until blood was drawn, had a "potential criminal flavour".

Mr Mosley, 68, is suing the Sunday newspaper for breach of privacy.

It had alleged a "sick" Nazi-themed orgy had taken place, but he disputes the paper's portrayal of events.

Mr Mosley's QC, James Price, cross-examining Mr Myler, said beatings would be expected at an S & M session.

'Plaster on bottom'

Mr Myler replied: "You say it was S & M but blood was drawn. I know it was drawn because he had a plaster on his bottom. I think it was after he'd had 15 beatings of the cane."

Mr Mosley was being accused of "instigating a crime upon himself" by the newspaper, Mr Price said.

He asked the editor: "Are you serious?"

Mr Myler replied: "It is what Mr Mosley did. The News of the World did not take Mr Mosley kicking and screaming to that apartment, that flat in Chelsea.

"The News of the World did not engage five girls for five hours of what went on - which was brutal."

We felt that what we saw, what we witnessed, was on balance a fair and reasonable interpretation of Nazi-style role-play
Colin Myler
News of the World editor

Mr Myler denied publishing the article because the newspaper wanted pictures of sex.

He said: "No, I didn't - not at all. We wouldn't have published intimate pictures of sex either in the paper or on the website - and we didn't."

The editor also denied he had a closed mind in deciding if there had been a Nazi theme to the session.

He said his conclusion was based on general history knowledge and connotations of the role-play - the striped uniforms, the medical inspection and the use of German.

Mr Myler added: "We felt that what we saw, what we witnessed, was on balance a fair and reasonable interpretation of Nazi-style role-play."

'Fig leaf'

Mr Price showed Mr Myler 100 images taken from the film, asking whether each one had Nazi connotations.

The editor said "yes" on only a few occasions.

He also admitted the newspaper should have transcribed what was said on the tapes in German.

While he agreed this should have been done "in fairness" to Mr Mosley, he denied it reflected a lack of interest in standing up the justification for the story.

Mr Myler denied the Nazi justification was a "fig leaf".

And he said he still did not believe that "in the context of all of the tape of what took place in that flat for five hours, we did not have a reasonable and justified right to publish what we did".

Public interest

News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck said one of the five women involved, Woman E, had reported seeing "quite extreme violence" during the sessions.

He said they "took it for granted" there would be a public interest justification to the story as the sadomasochism was so graphically outlined.

They gave Woman E a clandestine device to ensure they had evidence of what was happening.

He said: "A full statement from E would not provide sufficient evidence. It could be said that she wanted to sell the story to the newspaper for money so fabricated it.

"We needed absolute categoric evidence that an orgy had taken place.

"The standard of proof, in my experience at the News of the World, for getting a story into the paper is very, very high indeed."

Mr Thurlbeck maintained there was an "overwhelming Nazi theme" but denied he had suggested Woman E might want to get Mr Mosley to do a Sieg Heil salute.

Mr Mosley, president of the FIA, the governing body for Formula 1 racing, says his life has been devastated by the News of the World story.

He is asking for an award of punitive, as well as compensatory, damages.

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