Why I'm no Max Mosley convert

So Roy Greenslade - normally on the money - considers that Lucy Kellaway's encounter with Max Mosley is a pro-Mosley piece. Forgive Mediabeak but I did not read Kellaway's encounter with Mosley as being an epiphany over his right to privacy, rather she portrayed the anguish of a sophisticated and perhaps emotionally detached person in denial of the private side of their life that got them into the headlines in the first place.

His epic and arguably disproportionate battle with the press seems more about a cathartic exercise to prove that the media intrusion into his BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism) activities was morally more repugnant than his 'private' activities.

The give-away in Kellaway's piece is that there sits Mosley scanning the web for any mention of him. Will he or has he ever litigated against the reams of column inches that reported on the non BDSM activities he was engaged in or his central role in motor sports or charitable activities - of course not. So what we have here is -as we witnessed with Naomi Campbell - someone who is extremely angry about the media's intrusion into their secret (private) life and who will go to every length to punish the press for exposing their private lives.

Bottom line is - YES - a Campbell (as confirmed by the House of Lords) and Mosley do have a right to a private life BUT that right is not absolute and no more absolute than the media's right to feely express itself and engage in investigative journalism. As Mosley admitted, he's retired (sort of) and has the time and money to pursue his privacy battle (rather than buy himself a superyacht - oh the hardship) BUT the key point is this - Yes, he and others do have a right to 'respect' (as the law puts it) for their personal and family life BUT what happens when they show that same life little or no respect - is hanging with BDSM 'associates' showing respect for ones family? and can one and should one then be able to call on the law to protect oneself when exposed for having disrespected ones loved ones? It could be argued that such action all smacks of hypocrisy and the law is not there to help hypocrites buy or litigate their way out of trouble.

So back to Mosley and his campaign to introduce a law of prior restraint across Europe - well sorry but Mediabeak does NOT hope he is successful in Strasbourg as it would mean a dramatic dent on the whole concept of freedom of expression and doctrine of prior restraint (or there being a lack of prior restraint). It cannot be right that a newspaper or media outlet when in possession of a major exposee or scandal has to inform the object of that exposee or scandal so they have the ability to seek (and pay for) a court order to suspend publication while they come up with their excuses. The bottom line is we need to trust our journalists to check the story (preferably without phone hacking!) pre publication and then expose those who should be eposed.

Back to the law and it is phrased in such a way in the UK - even though we do not have a hallowed Bill of Rights - that there is the doctrine of prior restraint - or as it is also known as - being able to 'publish and be damned' - so that one can publish and air views but if such publication or views prove to be untrue then one is not imune from being sued or otherwise punished.

What media restraining actions such as those proposed by Mosley are seeking to do is to sweep the prying eye of the press under the carpet - this is wrong. The press do not belong under the carpet but need to know how to tread carefully on that carpet to get their story. Prior restraint is always wrong and Mosley has yet to convince that there is true altruism behind his zeal to impose draconian privacy laws on those whose job it is to expose the things that people in the public eye might want hidden but through conduct and time have forefeited their right to have excluded from public scrutiny, Such is the world and if one is intent on going into a dungeon with pvc clad persons then know this - the camera never lies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A rather muddled piece. Quite true that the right to privacy is not unqualified but don't you think Mr Justice Eady was aware of that?

The whole point of his judgement (which was not appealed) was that it's not up to the courts to decide what forms of private consensual adult sex are acceptable. No other approach will work because there will never be agreement on what forms of sex are OK .

Telling people how to conduct their sex lives is the prerogative of the Taliban. And the idea that editors (or Media Beak) should be the arbiters of sexual taste is laughable.

If editors are not prepared to respect the privacy laws, prior notification is essential. You seem to imply they should be allowed to break the law. They could seek a change in the law but it is wrong to flout it.