On the one hand, the News of the World is a scumbag newspaper full of scumbag stories, owned by a scumbag, written by scumbags and read by scumbags. Their respect for privacy is a national disgrace, and watching media types bemoaning their apparent new-found inability to pry into people’s lives this morning has been pathetic.
It was pretty clear that the Nazi angle of the story was exaggerated somewhat by the News of the World, even if it was perhaps not totally unfounded. Thinking back to the original story, around half of it or maybe even more reflected on his family background rather than his wrongdoings in the bedroom department. The attempt to connect Max Mosley to fascism on the flimsiest of grounds, on the basis of who his parents were, was disgusting. Max Mosley did not choose his parents.
Even so, in my view there has been no satisfactory explanation for the overtones that allowed the Nazi conclusions to be drawn. The recordings include German speaking. This was explained as being down to the fact that one of the prostitutes was German. However, what has not been explained is why they were speaking English in a German accent. Phrases such as “I sink she needs more of ze punishment” (uttered by Mosley himself) and “We are the Aryan race!” do not strike me as being part of just another S&M orgy.
Max Mosley apparently had a sudden hearing loss during the phase of the conversation. Mr Justice Eady concedes that this sounds like a rather tall story, but says that it doesn’t matter because it was “clear… that the remark was unscripted”. He seems to think it was as though they were discussing whether an episode of EastEnders had Nazi overtones.
I also find it incredible that the judge has decided there was no public interest in the story. Oh really? The Crown Prince of Bahrain, Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, was interested. King Juan Carlos of Spain was interested. Prince Albert of Monaco was interested. Galeb Majadle, Israel’s minister for sport was interested. BMW, Mercedes, Honda and Toyota were all interested. Bernie Ecclestone was interested.
The fact is, no matter how disgusting I think it is that the News of the World should invade people’s private lives, once the world had the knowledge that he indulges in that kind of behaviour it affected his ability to do his job. That in itself surely demonstrates sufficient public interest in any sense that would be meaningful to anybody not sitting in an ivory tower.
There were a lot of people who scratched their heads about the huge £100 million fine handed down to McLaren by Max Mosley last year. I think a lot of people have a feeling that they now know it is because Max Mosley gets a sexual thrill out of inflicting a harsh punishment. The next time the FIA has to hand down a punishment to someone, it will be an open goal for easy jibes. This puts Formula 1 and the FIA itself into disrepute. It ability to govern the sport properly has been diminished.
It would be bad enough if Max Mosley was just the “boss of Formula 1” or the “head of motor sport” as the media constantly referred to him as. This probably made the public at large a lot more sympathetic towards Max Mosley than they otherwise would have been. The fact is that the FIA has a huge responsibility not just for sport but for the motor industry as a whole.
The FIA has a huge amount of weight and influence when it comes to aspects like road safety and green technologies. The FIA works together with the United Nations and the European Union among other organisations to make things happen. The FIA was pivotal in the formation of Euro NCAP, the European car safety assessment organisation.
Max Mosley is so much more than just an F1 man or motorsport president. He is responsible for cars full stop. This gives him a huge amount of power — probably more than most British politicians can dream to have.
I think the public saw this as quite a jokey story. Yet if we were talking about a cabinet minister or the CEO of a multinational company he would never have lasted this long. It might well have been a different story if the public realised just how much power Max Mosley has.
Do we really want someone who gets his sexual kicks out of inflicting pain to have so much responsibility over road safety? Do we want someone whose judgement is so questionable that he would regularly cheat on his wife and lie to his family to have such responsibilities?
As I have said countless times, Max Mosley should have done the honourable thing and resigned months ago. But we know from years of experience that Mosley is not an honourable man. Had he resigned, I would have fully supported him in his court case today.
However, his behaviour since the revelations have demonstrated that he does lack judgement and that he does have too much power. The FIA General Assembly vote simply demonstrated that it is a rotten borough, and the FIA is filled to the brim with Max Mosley lackeys.
Ideally, Max Mosley would have resigned and News Group Newspapers would have lost its court case. As it is, Max Mosley will go to bed tonight feeling vindicated. And that makes me angry.