News of the World editor warns that privacy laws are "strangling" UK press - Press Gazette

News of the World editor warns that privacy laws are “strangling” UK press

Colin Myler, editor of the News of the World, said today that the UK media is being “strangled by stealth” by encroaching privacy laws inspired by European courts.

Speaking outside the High Court after today’s privacy ruling in favour of Formula One chief Max Mosley, he said: ‘The judge has ruled that Mr Mosley’s activities did not involve Nazi roleplay as we had reported but has acknowledged our honest belief that the Nazi theme was involved during the orgy.”

He said that Mosley is the leader of the richest sport of the world with a membership of almost 125 million.

Myler said: ‘Taking part in depraved and brutal S&M orgies on a regular basis is not in our opinion constitute fit and proper behaviour to be expected of someone in his hugely influential position.’

Mosley was today awarded £60,000 in damages and the News of the World was also ordered to pay his costs, which are estimated at £450,00 after it published video, photos and a front page story showing him taking part in an S&M orgy in a Chelsea flat. Crucially, the judge ruled that the orgy had no Nazi element, as the NoW had claimed.

Myler said: ‘The News of the World believes passionatley that its readers desrve to be informed of when the trust placed in their elected leaders and public officials has been violated. It’s not for the rich and famous, the powerful and the influential to dictate the news agenda, just because they have the money and the means to gag a free press.

‘Unfortunately our press is less free today after another judgment based on privacy laws emanating from Europe. How those very general laws should work in practice has never been debated in the UK Parliament.

‘English judges are left to apply those laws to in cases here using guidance from judges in Strasbourg who are unfriendly to freedom of expression. The result is that our media are being strangled by stealth.”

He said: ‘In court he admitted to enjoying these practices for the pasts 45 years, the fact of which his wife and children were unaware.”

Myler said: “We are delighted that the judge has acknowledged that Mr Mosley is largely the author of his own misfortune.”

And he read the following section from Mr Justice Eady’s long judgment:

“Many would think that if a prominent man puts himself, year after year, into the hands (literally and metaphorically) of prostitutes…he is gambling in placing so much trust in them.

“There is a risk of exposure or blackmail inherent in such a course of conduct.

“To a casual observer…it might seem that the claimant’s behaviour was reckless and almost self-destructive…

“It could be thought unreasonable to absolve him of all responsiblity for placing himself and his family in the predicament which they now find themselves/

“It is part and parcel of human dignity that one must take at least some responsibility for one’s own actions.”

Myler also said he was pleased that the judge did not award Mosley the exemplary damages which had been sought.

Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette