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Following his newspaper's defeat in the High Court today, News of the World Editor Colin Myler remained defiant, claiming that the British tabloid was totally justified its expose of Max Mosley's private life.
Reading from a prepared statement outside the court, Myler said: "In court, Mr Mosley admitted to enjoying these practices for the past 45 years, a fact of which his wife and children were unaware. The judge has ruled that Mr Mosley's activities did not involve Nazi role-playing as we had reported, but has acknowledged that the News of the World had an honest belief that a Nazi theme was involved during the orgy. The newspaper believed that what it published on 30 March 2008 was legitimate and lawful, and moreover the publication was justified by the public interest in exposing Mr Mosley's serious impropriety."
Far from being apologetic for his role in the saga, Myler insists that due to his high-profile role as "world leader of motorsport", Mosley's private life is of public interest.
"As the elected head of the FIA, Mr Mosley is the leader of the richest sport in the world, with a global membership of almost 125 million people," said Myler. "This newspaper has always maintained that because of his status and position he had an obligation to honour the standards which his vast membership had every right to expect of him. Taking part in depraved and brutal S&M orgies on a regular basis does not in our opinion constitute the fit and proper behaviour to be expected of someone in his hugely influential position."
"We are delighted that the judge has acknowledged that Mr Mosley is largely the author of his own misfortune," he continued. "This is what the judge said about his reckless behaviour: 'Many would think that if a prominent man puts himself year after year into the hands of prostitutes he is gambling in placing so much trust in them. There is a risk of exposure or blackmail inherent in such conduct. To the casual observer it might seem that the claimant's behaviour was reckless and almost self-destructive. It could be thought unreasonable to absolve him of all responsibility, placing himself and all of his family in a predicament in which they now find themselves. It is part and parcel of human dignity, that one must take at least some responsibility to one's own actions.'"
Despite a 'bloody nose', Myler and his paper can take comfort from the fact that punitive damages were not awarded, even though today's ruling, according to many within the media industry, sounds the death knell for 'kiss and tell' stories the staple diet of tabloids such as the News of the World.
"We are also pleased that the judge did not award Mr Mosley exemplary damages," said Myler. "Significantly, he found that the notion of such punitive awards has no place in this creeping law of privacy."
Referring to the implications today's ruling has, he added: "The News of the World believes passionately that its readers deserve to be informed when their trust is placed in elected leaders and public officials has been violated. It is not for the rich and famous, the powerful and the influential to dictate the news agenda just because they have the money and the means to gag the free press.
"Unfortunately, our press is less free today after another judgement based on privacy laws emanating from Europe," he added. "How those very general laws should work in practice has never been debated in the UK Parliament. English judges are left to apply those laws to individual cases using guidelines from judges in Strasbourg who are unfriendly to freedom of expression. The result is that our media are being strangled by stealth. That is why the News of the World will remain committed to fighting for its readers' right to know."
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