Press standards, privacy and libel - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Examination of Witness (Question Number 160-167)


10 MARCH 2009

  Q160  Paul Farrelly: Why?

  Mr Mosley: Because they libelled me.

  Q161  Paul Farrelly: Why not in the UK?

  Mr Mosley: I just explained. I have not yet taken the decision whether to do it in the UK. In France the way it works is if there is a criminal procedure then you can, and you have to make your mind up very quickly, attach to it a civil action for libel. The advice from the lawyers in France was it is advantageous and assists the criminal proceedings if you attach also a claim for libel so that is what we have done.

  Q162  Paul Farrelly: Your actions that are still ongoing and under consideration, be they in the UK or overseas, are restricted to the News of the World, its editor and reporters, not the people who facilitated it, Madam E and her husband.

  Mr Mosley: The suit in France there is the Penal Code against the two individuals and I think also the newspaper, the action under their law of 1881 against both the individuals and the newspaper.

  Q163  Paul Farrelly: The offence occurred in the UK. Are you not concerned that you are going to be accused of libel tourism or forum shopping?

  Mr Mosley: No, their offence was in France. They published the pictures in France. Unfortunately publishing the pictures in England is not a criminal offence. Publishing the pictures in France or Italy is a criminal offence so therefore I am going after them for the criminal offence in France and Italy. Unfortunately, at the moment, it is not a criminal offence in England. If there were, I would go after them here.

  Q164  Paul Farrelly: To clarify, you would like both a privacy law and mandatory pre-notification on all stories?

  Mr Mosley: Absolutely, because without prior notification a privacy law is nugatory for the reasons I have already explained.

  Q165  Paul Farrelly: You do not think that might have not only a chilling effect but real repercussions for the sorts of journalism that are practised in the public interest and not the sort of journalism that you have been suing the News of the World for?

  Mr Mosley: No, because we get back always to the same point. You have to trust the judges. If we had a law that says you must not publish something that is private unless it is in the public interest, which is pretty much what the law says now, then who decides whether it should or should not be published? In a difficult case it has to be the judge. Most cases are straight forward.

  Q166  Paul Farrelly: Would you not admit that judges sometimes are known to follow their own prejudices and sometimes judges get it spectacularly wrong? Not in this issue but I remember Lord Denning on the Birmingham six saying, the biggest non-sequitur in recent UK legal history, that what he was being told about the treatment of the Birmingham Six could not possibly have been as the consequences would have been unimaginable.

  Mr Mosley: For anyone to advance the proposition that judges are infallible would be foolish but equally for somebody to advance the proposition that we cannot trust the judges so we will leave the whole thing to the tabloid editors is perhaps more foolish.

  Q167  Chairman: We have no more questions so can I thank you very much.

  Mr Mosley: Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

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