Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 11:52 UK

Papers rue Max Mosley judgement

Motorsport boss Max Mosley has won a privacy case against the News of the World over claims an orgy he took part in had Nazi overtones.

The implications of the ruling on the freedom of the press are raked over by most of Friday's papers.


Mosley faces the press
Mr Mosley won 60,000 damages

Describing it as a "dark day for British freedom," the paper says the ruling is another step towards creating "a dangerous European-style privacy law".

Such a law would "provide a cloak of secrecy behind which privileged and powerful people will be able to hide their criminal or immoral activities from the public," it says.

But the Sun vows it will not be detracted from printing what it believes is in the public interest.

"What matters is not what a lofty and privileged judge thinks should be printed in papers. What matters is YOUR right to know," it tells its readers.

It was a "good day for the grubby and corrupt," as the judgement effectively means "the law in Britain is now morally neutral," the paper says.

By declaring the story has no public interest, the judge removed any shame attached to adultery, undermining marriage, it says.

One judge, using the "wretched" Human Rights Act, is creating a privacy law which would have to go through numerous stages were it introduced in Parliament, it says.

It calls on politicians to repeal the act, saying that until that happens "press freedom and parliamentary democracy in Britain are significantly diminished."


It says the press is indeed a little less free, making it harder for papers to report kiss-and-tell stories without a solid public interest defence.

But it says the judgement does not mark the end of serious investigative journalism.

"It is hard to believe that a court would not find in favour of a newspaper exposing moral hypocrisy by a politician or sexual misbehaviour by, for instance, a vicar," it says.

It adds that public figures are likely to try to develop the "law of confidence" further and it would be good if Parliament had something to say on privacy.

It also says the Press Complaints Commission must reflect on why it is not being used as a credible alternative to the courts by public figures.


The judge's observation that it's wise not to let cases of spanking between consenting adults clutter the courts was made "in the best live-and-let-live traditions of British society," it says.

But it says the Eady judgement is part of a trend which has swung markedly towards the right to privacy outweighing the right to freedom of expression.

Parliament has had no say in this new corpus of law apart from when it first adopted the Human Rights Act, it says.

It concludes papers who seek taped evidence to guard against libel could leave themselves open to charges of breach of privacy.

"While the Mosley case may have added to the gaiety of the nation, Mr Justice Eady's judgment will make it more difficult to expose those in positions of power who do wrong," it concludes.


Mourning the death of the kiss-and-tell, which it says is "as integral to British culture as the saucy seaside postcard," is a little premature, it says.

The principles of media freedom and personal privacy are enshrined in law and it is inevitable at times they conflict.

As long as the public interest continues to be recognised as justification for exposing personal conduct, however, the balance would seem to be about right, it argues.

It concludes: "It probably does not mean the death of "kiss-and-tell" as readers of the popular press have known it and loved it.

"But if it does, what a way - what a fantastically colourful and sordid way - for the genre to make its final bow."


The Times says the judgement has "tipped the scales in favour of privacy over press freedom".

It says the judgement in the "sensational" case is a blunt reminder to journalists that they stand and fall by the accuracy of their reporting.

And it has effectively barred coverage of sexual behaviour by redefining what is reasonable to expect to remain private, it says.

"Some revile a moralising press. Others believe it is the duty of the press to take an ethical stand. Either way, it is a choice. The court has curbed this freedom of expression," it concludes.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific