Watching Formula One boss Max Mosley tear into the News of the World from the secure footing of the moral high ground outside the High Court on Thursday was reminscent of witnessing Jonathan Aitken’s famous ‘sword of truth and trusty shield of fair play’speech.
There is no suggestion that Mosley lied to the authorities, as Aitken did, but he did deceive his wife for 45 years over his extra-marital interest in sado-masochistic sex. Yet he emerged the victor.
There is an oft-quoted legal principle that there is ‘no confidence in iniquity’– but it would seem that adultery does not qualify.
Mr Justice Eady appeared to agree with the NoW that as the leader of the world’s richest sport, Mosley is a public figure. And Eady said in his judgment that if it had indeed been a Nazi-themed orgy, as the NoW alleged, the paper would have had a public interest in exposing him. But notwithstanding one domatrix’s mid-orgy cry of ‘We are the Aryan race – blondes’– Eady found there was no evidence of a Nazi tone.
The question all this raises is whether privacy protection on matters of a sexual nature now applies to all public figures, from the Prime Minister down. It would seem that in Eady’s mind – and he is largely making the law on this issue – it does.
How are voters expected to trust their leaders to act honourably and honestly in their public duties if they are not doing so in the most important aspects of their private life?
Under Eady’s law, the affair with a male prostitute of married father-of-two Mark Oaten might never have been revealed by the NoW in 2006 and he could now be leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Is that really the best way to conduct an open democratic society?