Friday, July 25, 2008

Mosley Wins Privacy Suit

The English High Court concluded that News of the World, a well-known tabloid newspaper, violated the privacy rights of Max Mosley when it published lurid accounts of an apparent sado-masochistic orgy and that the event had a Nazi theme (click here for background). Grounded in what would be "false light" and "embarrassing private facts" privacy theory (if the case was decided under U.S. law), the court concluded that not only were Mosley's sexual interests private, but that it was untrue that the occurrence had a "Nazi theme" or "adoption of any of its attitudes" as was claimed by the newspaper.

"There was bondage, beating and domination, which seem to be typical of S&M behavior," Judge David Eady noted. The News of the World faces a legal bill of almost 1 million pounds (about $2 million) which includes damages of $120,000 and the legal fees to Mosley's attorneys (which are awarded under "loser pays" standard of English law). However, the court rejected Mosley's claim for punitive damages.

I am looking for copy of the ruling and after I read it, then I could comment on its precedential value. However, the damages are high by English standards and that fact could give the British tabloids some pause before going after lurid stories about the sexual activities of public figures.


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