Jul 15, 2008

Entertainment - Decision near in sensational London trial of Privacy Suit

LONDON: After a week of testimony, a sensational trial that has centered on the sadomasochistic activities of Max Mosley, the overseer of grand prix motor racing, went to the judge on Monday without the testimony of the woman who ignited the affair by concealing a video camera in her brassiere.
The judge, Sir David Eady, said he hoped to rule next week in Mosley's invasion-of-privacy case against a tabloid, The News of the World.
Mosley, the 68-year-old president of the Paris-based International Automobile Federation, which governs international motor sport, sued the newspaper for punitive damages for an article in March.
The article, promoted by a large front-page headline, said he had participated in a "Nazi orgy" in a flat in the Chelsea district of London with five women he has admitted hiring for the occasion with a $5,000 fee.
Mosley's lawyers claim that his sexual activities should be shielded from public exposure under British legal precedents that have expanded the right of privacy in the past decade.

The newspaper's lawyers have said there was a legitimate public interest in what they have described as "true depravity" on the part of Mosley, whom they have depicted as a public figure.
The outcome of the case is expected to be a legal landmark.
A potentially crucial moment in the case came late last week, when the witness identified in court as Woman E did not appear. She was identified in testimony by The News of the World's chief reporter as the participant who had agreed to make a secret video recording of the Chelsea session for a fee equivalent to about $50,000 — only about $24,000 of which the newspaper paid.
The newspaper's chief counsel at the trial said that her not testifying was a result of her fragile "emotional and mental state," and that the newspaper had decided that it would not be fair or reasonable to call her.
In commentaries in British newspapers over the weekend, the forecasts were mostly that Mosley would win, building on the success that other celebrities have had in recent years in lawsuits against British newspapers for invasion of privacy.
Last month, at a specially summoned meeting in Paris of the International Automobile Federation, Mosley won a battle to keep his job by making essentially the same argument to the federation's network of national motoring clubs that he advanced in the London court: that his engaging in sadomasochism was a private matter in which no one was harmed.
Celebrities who have successfully sued newspapers for invasion of privacy in British courts in recent years have relied heavily on provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and on a statute embedding provisions of the European convention in British law, the 2000 Human Rights Act.
Among other things, the act provides that "everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."
One successful litigant was Naomi Campbell, the model, who won a lawsuit against The Daily Mirror in 2004 after it published photographs of her leaving a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
In the court and in the automobile federation meeting, Mosley said The News of the World had manufactured its claim that his five-hour session in the Chelsea flat had a Nazi theme.
In court last week, he said the use of an old Luftwaffe jacket by one of the women, guttural commands in German during spanking sessions, and other features of the afternoon were part of a generic prison scenario, and not an attempt to recreate the conditions of a Nazi concentration camp, as the newspaper contended.
The News of the World's lawyers had told the court before Woman E's nonappearance that she would testify that Mosley had specifically requested a Nazi theme for the session, something that was denied by the other four women who participated.
Neville Thurlbeck, the paper's chief reporter, said he had told the woman to be sure to capture any image of Mosley giving a Nazi salute, if he gave one.
"If Mr. Mosley was to give the 'sieg heil,' then that was a very crucial image for us to capture, a very powerful and emotive image," he said.
Video and audio recordings of the session that were played at the trial did not show him giving a Nazi salute.
Part of what has given the case great prominence in the British news media is that Mosley is the son of Sir Oswald Mosley, head of Britain's National Union of Fascists in the 1930s, and his wife, Diana. Max Mosley, taking the stand last week, said the last thing he wanted was to be reminded "in a sexual context" of the fact that his parents had gone down in history as Nazi sympathizers.

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