Max Mosley begins legal battle to curb press freedom

Ex-F1 boss will attempt to use data protection laws to gag press in landmark trial

Max Mosley won damages against New of the World in 2008
Max Mosley won damages against New of the World in 2008
(Image credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The former boss of Formula 1, Max Mosley, has launched a legal bid to prevent news outlets from reporting on his personal life, which if successful could effectively limit press freedom in the UK.

Mosley is the first person in Britain to attempt to use data protection laws to force newspapers to stop publishing widely reported details about his sex life.

He came to national attention in 2008 when the now-defunct News of World published details of an orgy he held with prostitutes. Mosley won a landmark settlement when judges ruled the paper’s claim he had engaged in Nazi-themed role pay was inaccurate and the story had breached his privacy by publishing pictures and videos. His father, Oswald, led the British Union of Fascists before the Second World War.

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Mosley is also attempting to stop newspapers from claiming he personally bankrolls Impress, the state-recognised press regulator, which was set up in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

His use of the Data Protection Act 1998, which governs how companies and organisations can handle individuals’ private data, to restrict press freedom in this way is “legally unprecedented”, says The Times.

Mosley’s lawyers are demanding newspapers stop “processing data” related to their client and “block or erase” data that his legal team believes to be inaccurate.

If successful, the ruling “would effectively compel titles to remove some online articles relating to Mosley and prevent them from publishing further stories in future”, says the Times.

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