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Mosley to fight on for prior-notification requirement

28 September 2011

Max Mosley will continue to push for changes to privacy laws after failing to have his case against News of the World and the UK heard by the grand chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.

Mosley’s lawyer, Tim Lowles, told Solicitors Journal the former F1 boss was among the core participants invited inform the Leveson inquiry set up after the phone hacking scandal and that he would argue further for the introduction of a pre-notification requirement in privacy cases.

“The landscape has changed since the hacking stories earlier this year and the government now has to take a position on privacy,” Lowles said.

Asked if a new culture of respect within the media would be sufficient to protect privacy rights, Lowles replied: “Any law or regulation that revolves around privacy can only work if there is a requirement of prior notification. Otherwise it’s up to the editor. And once the information is out there, there’s no way of bringing it back into the private sphere - prior notification is the only way.”

Rod Dadak, head of media at Lewis Silkin, said that although Mosley had lost the ECtHR battle he had won the war “as his case more than any other put privacy and the press on the map”.

Dadak said Mosley’s attempt to persuade the grand chamber to make it compulsory for prior notification by journalists of stories potentially breaching privacy was bound to fail.

“Nevertheless”, Dadak continued, “in putting the spotlight on the media, and with a welcome boost from the phone hacking scandal, he has been hugely successful in his overall campaign. The balancing exercise is no longer a one way trip down the road of freedom of expression.”

In a ruling on 10 May, the human rights court found that NOTW’s conduct was “open to severe criticism” and that financial damages were not a suitable remedy once private material had been put in the public domain.

But, the Strasbourg judges said, the human rights convention did not require governments to provide for a pre-notification requirement to secure the privacy rights enshrined in article 8.

In a letter dated 16 September, the court said the grand chamber would not consider Mosley’s appeal and that the May ruling would stand.

The decision puts an end to the case the former F1 boss brought against the News of The World for running a story alleging he had been involved in a “sick Nazi orgy with five hookers”.

The Mr Justice Eady ruled in July the same year that Mosley’s privacy rights had been breached. The judge made an award for £60,000 – together with a £420,000 costs order – but said “an infringement of privacy cannot ever be effectively compensated by a monetary award”.

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