On Tuesday I attended both sessions of my select committee dealing with the sensitive and prickly issue of Press freedoms and privacy of individuals.
Our morning session had Max Mosley as a witness, followed in the afternoon by Gerry McCann, father of the missing Madeleine McCann. Two very different people and two very different issues.
There has been an Amazonian rain forest felled to print journalistic responses to both sessions, and its fair to say that McCann got the deserved sympathy whilst Mosley got a panning.
Whilst the Daily Mail’s Stephen Glover gave a reluctant admiration for Mosley for not inclining to “lie low”, I felt that Mosley was on a mission and part of that mission was to do anything other than fade from the public scene.
Appearing live on Sky and inserts into the BBC Mosley used the hearing to promote changes to the law which would protect future “private” transgressions from hitting the front pages, pages 2,3,4,5 and in his case….pages 57, 58, 59 and 60.
Committee members were furnished with facsimile copies of the News of the World editions splashing the details Mosley’s antics with prostitutes at the orgy he attended. Memories fade, I know, but maybe the newspaper copies were a little unecessary.
It’s fair to say that the lucid and lewd descriptions of the said event was still fairly fresh in our minds… and will be for some time to come.
And that was his rub. (There are no intended puns in any of this article!) He felt that his dignity had somehow been compromised by the revelations of what he had done. If I got the drift right, he didn’t seem to have any problems with the orgy or much else that had gone on at the orgy, but he did take exception to any mention of the word Nazi.
He sued in court and won damages on the privacy angle but has yet to make his mind up as to whether to sue for libel damages. He didn’t want to seem to be going over the top.
His defence of his father only confused the affair. Oswald Mosley, the fascist friend of Hitler and other leading Nazis fathered Max many moons ago. He spent the war interred. I am proud of my father’s involvement during the last war, but then again he was fighting FOR the British.
Max thought that his father might have gone over the top at times…..indeed, but as I said in the committee, to say that was taking understatement to a new level.
The fact is that if Mosley really wants to test this case I feel that he should look to sue for libel. If he has been libelled, that is.
It wasn’t our task to re-test the court case already passed. Our task is to get to whether Mosley and the like need protection from the press. At times I thought Mosley better needed protection from himself.
McCann was completely different and had the entire sympathy of the Committee and the journalists looking on. He too had won a court case and deservedly so. His compensation had gone to the fund to find his missing daughter. Some of the press had been appalling to him, Kate and the family.
Certainly the protection demands for Gerry and Kate are somewhat different than that for Mosley. They had been libelled and had gone to court. Mosley can do the same using conditional fee arrangements meaning if the loses then he pays nothing.
If he wins he may gain substantial sums of money.
I have only got one suggestion here. If he does go down that route…. how about giving the damages to the McCann fund?
At least some good will then have come about to assuage all our consciences.
As far as the committee is concerned we have much more work to do… but who ever said politics is boring never sat in on our sessions last Tuesday.
The case continues!!!