Motorsport boss Max Mosley told the High Court today that there “was not even a hint” of Nazi behaviour in the sado-masochistic session he enjoyed with five women.
“I can think of few things more unerotic than Nazi roleplay”, the 68-year-old son of 1930s Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley told Mr Justice Eady at the start of his groundbreaking breach of privacy action against the News of the World.
“It also has associations for me in other ways which would make it even less interesting.
“All my life, I have had hanging over me my antecedents, my parents, and the last thing I want to do in some sexual context is be reminded of it.
“I wouldn’t consider my parents to be Nazi but there is obviously a link.”
Asked if he saw any Nazi aspect to what the newspaper called a “sick Nazi orgy” in the Chelsea basement flat in March, he replied: “Absolutely not.”
“There was not even a hint of that – certainly not in my mind and, I’m convinced, not in the minds of any of the other participants. It simply didn’t arise.”
James Price QC said the story, with an accompanying film on the newspaper’s website, was a “gross and indefensible intrusion” into Mr Mosley’s private life by the News of the World in its role as “Peeping Tom”.
It was made substantially worse by the “shocking and entirely false” suggestion that it depicted Mosley, president of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) playing a concentration camp commandant and a cowering death camp inmate.
News Group Newspapers is strongly contesting the action, which includes an unprecedented claim in a privacy case for exemplary or punitive damages as well as compensatory damages, and will argue that publication was justified in the public interest.
Mosley said he did not think his private life was a matter of concern to the motoring public.
“If I was caught drink-driving, or grossly speeding, I think that would be, but things of the nature discussed are, I think, completely out of the scope of my work and have no connection to it whatsoever.”
He told the judge that roleplay added to the atmosphere and fantasy of S and M and corporal punishment.
“It’s just more – fun is probably the wrong word – but it’s much better if accompanied by something which seems to justify what is going on.”
He said that, as far as he knew, everyone who participated enjoyed it and there was no brutality involved, although there was humour.
Asked about the effect of the publicity, he said: “It had more of an effect on my family than it did on me.
“My wife and I have been married for 48 years and together for more than 50 – we met as teenagers – and she never knew of this aspect of my life, so that headline in the newspaper was completely, totally devastating for her and there is nothing that I can say that can ever repair that.
“Also, for my two sons, I don’t think there is anything worse for a son than to see in a newspaper, particularly one like the News of the World, pictures of the kind they printed.
“I can think of nothing more undignified or humiliating than that. If I put myself in their position – to see my father in that position, I would find devastating.
“For myself, I’m a fairly robust person. At times in my life I have been subject to various attacks so I can deal with it. Also, I can retaliate, I can bring an action here and on the continent.
“My family can do nothing except suffer the consequences for something they have no responsibility for.”
Asked if he had done anything to deserve it, he replied: “Absolutely not. I fundamentally disagree with the suggestion that any of this is depraved, fundamentally disagree with the fact that it is immoral.
“I think it is a perfectly harmless activity provided it is between consenting adults who want to do it, are of sound mind, and it is in private.”
Cross-examined by Mark Warby QC, for the newspaper, Mosley said the flat was not a “torture chamber” as had been alleged.
He agreed that he had paid the women £2,500 for the session, which he termed a party, rather than an orgy.
He disputed that the women involved were prostitutes.
“The natural or ordinary meaning of that is someone who sells their body – normally has sexual intercourse in return for money. These people don’t do that.”
Mosley denied that a beating he received with a cane involved brutality, even though it drew blood.
“You have to understand that people who do this a lot become very sensitive and bleed very easily and the pain involved in that, compared to all sorts of things, is very modest.
“I’d far rather do that than jump into a cold swimming pool.”
He said the suggestion that the beating involved criminality was “utterly absurd”.
“The level of violence is minimal, the drawing of blood a little like cutting yourself shaving.
“When you think of piercings, tattoos – never mind violent sports – it’s laughable, absolutely laughable to say this is criminal wounding – fanciful and laughable.”
Asked if he was a risk-taker in relation to his sexual activities, Mosley said: “I’ve been doing that for 45 years and there’s never been the slightest hint of that coming out and, if it hadn’t been for bribery and illegal acts, this wouldn’t have come out.”
He said he was aware of the risk of being followed and discussed what steps he could take with former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens and his organisation Quest.
The one thing he did not consider was someone attempting to blackmail or bribe one of the women as he knew them so well.
He also took steps to clean up his computer.
Mosley said he had known woman A – there are restrictions in place preventing the identification of any of the women – for two years.
“I went to her for corporal punishment and a long time after that it developed somewhat.”
Last October, he gave her £35,000 to pay for a year’s rental of the Chelsea flat, its fittings and running expenses.
He denied Mr Warby’s suggestion that he was an arrogant man.
“Not in the least,” he told counsel.
He said the session at the heart of the case was a German prison scenario, with suitable uniforms, but there was no military aspect.