Saturday, July 12, 2008

Max Mosley and Peeping Tom

The News of the World and the Sun's history of hard-hitting violations of privacy

It's only a few years since the News of the World ended up in a costly out-of-court settlement after stirring some shit in the Beckhams' household with the alleged text message exchange with Rebecca Loos. A few months later, the Sun unleashed a hate campaign against Swiss referee Uri Meier after the controversial Euro 2004 exit of England against Portugal. After urging readers to "let rip" and send him emails, the tabloid stuck a huge St George flag outside the referee's home in northern Switzerland and published his address. Fed up of death threats and afraid for his family, Mr Meier was soon forced to up sticks.

The latest chapter to be added to the News of the World and the Sun's history of hard-hitting violations of privacy concerns Formula One boss Max Mosley. He was filmed and photographed during an S&M session with prostitutes, behind closed doors. The guy is suing and, quite frankly, he has every right to.

The reader can laugh, sneer at or criticise Mosley's penchant for a bit of tough love, but the fact is, the Sun's practice of intruding so violently into people's privacy in order to rake up the dividends has got to end. Mosley's lawyer, Mr Price, was bang on when he contended that to spy on a person's sex life is "disgusting". More to the point, "the role of the News of the World as Peeping Tom publishing for the amusement of the millions sits uncomfortably with its self-appointed role as arbitrator of the nation's morals," he said. Abso-bloody-lutely.

It was also patent that the News of the World was at pains to strike up a sensational story of Nazi undertones. Max Mosley is, in fact, the son of Oswald Mosley, the infamous British fascist leader from the 1930s. To obtain footage of him roleplaying master and servant was, in essence, a gift served on a tray. Before you knew, the News of the World had already come up with the "Nazi-themed orgy" headlines even though the Nazi references were notable by their absence.

It is true that when Mr Mosley talks about how "totally devastating" the ordeal was for his wife and his two sons, the words crocodile and tears spring to mind. But it's simply vile that the News of the World, or any paper, can feel the right to stick their nose into people's privacy.

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