Finally, Mosley speaks


Three weeks after the News of the World first ran the story that has overshadowed Formula One ever since, FIA President Max Mosley has finally spoken out.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph's Andrew Alderson, Mosley, defends his right to privacy, saying that his sex session with five prostitutes was nobody else's business, talks of the support he has received and also reveals that he fully intended to step down from his role as President in 2009 anyway.

In a move which will probably only further rile the likes of Edward Gorman and his Fleet Street (F1) colleagues, for his first real interview since the scandal was unleashed, Mosley chose Andrew Alderson, the Chief Reporter with the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph.

Referring to when he first heard that the story had broken, Mosley said: "I became aware that they were going to run the story only when I got a call from Richard Woods, who does all our public relations (for the FIA), and he told me the story was on the pages - in the paper - about 10 o'clock on Sunday morning.

"It's outrageous," Mosley continued, "because the whole thing was predicated around the idea that this was some sort of Nazi orgy. And the Nazi aspect of that is absolutely untrue. In fact, it was a deliberate, cold-blooded, calculated lie, to which there's no basis at all, and witness the fact that when they print the story, they have nothing to back it up.

"So that was really annoying because obviously the main subject was embarrassing to say the least, but to have the Nazi connotation placed on it when it was completely untrue was extremely annoying.

"They gave me no time at all," he continued, "because by the time I knew about it, it was on the streets. Worse than that, I didn't (originally) know this but I found out subsequently, the first edition of the paper didn't carry the story. So not only did they not contact me, they actually went to the trouble of having an edition without the story just to make quite sure that nobody would find out in time to get the injunction, which would undoubtedly have been granted had I known about the story."

Mosley then talks about the actual S&M session, saying that, within reason, what goes on between consenting adults behind closed doors is a matter for them and them alone.

"The problem with sex is that it goes all the way from missionary position with the lights out for the process of procreation, all the way through to the most weird and way out things that go way beyond anything I'd do, and I think that most adults would say that whatever in that spectrum somebody does, provided it doesn't hurt anybody, provided it's consensual, provided it's among adults, and provided it's in private, it concerns nobody but the people doing it. So I don't see it as a moral issue...

"You've got to understand, people have sides of that kind to them. But again, I say that as long as it's adults, consensual, in private... it doesn't hurt anybody."

Hurt no, but he admits his family, and in particular his wife, has been embarrassed.

"I think it's very bad for my family because it's so embarrassing for them. How can I put it - she's (his wife Jean) not best pleased," He admits. While his two son; "have been completely supportive, embarrassed, but completely supportive.

Furthermore; "a surprising number of people in and around motor sport that I consider to be close friends have been amazingly supportive. And really it's quite touching the degree to which people are (supportive). Bernie, certainly he's supportive and he thinks it's disgusting, but he's got to get on and run his business."

Referring to the legal action, whereby he is seeking unlimited damages in the UK, Mosley says: "I think what happens is they (the News of the World) think 'what can we get at him, ah yes, we can say he's this Nazi. Is there any basis for Nazism? Not really, but we can kind of invent something and then focus on the family name.' The whole thing was quite deliberate from that point of view because it adds to the story.

"And of course these people, they don't care what damage they do, they don't care whether they tell the truth or a lie, they are prepared to do anything or say anything to sell a few of their papers and that's what it was.

"The first thing we're doing is suing them for breach of privacy, and for this we have been given an expedited trial, so it means the entire five-day trial (a civil hearing) will come on in July.

"I don't think they're entitled to do this (allegedly invade his privacy), I don't think they should be entitled to do this, and I intend to do what I can to stop them. Now in addition to that, proceedings are being brought in other jurisdictions because they have put this out as said all over the world. There are some countries where their actions are illegal, illegal in the criminal sense in that they can be prosecuted. This is now under way.

"I think it's extremely personal," he adds. "But they put it on a completely different plane when they first of all told a deliberate and cold-blooded lie about Nazism, as we will demonstrate, and then on top of that, when I said that it was a lie, in the second paper, the one that came out on April 6, they called me the liar.

"As far as the UK is concerned, (seeking substantial damages) is the remedy now," says Mosley. "I'm going to seek damages and I'm going to give the damages to charity. The damages could be very big indeed, because we are asking for exemplary damages, and the principle of exemplary damages is, as Lord Hailsham once said in a leading case, is that 'tort should not pay'. So when they're big and they're rich and they think they can do what they like, and in this case they certainly think 'well, the damages in privacy cases tend to be quite small, so it just comes out of the petty cash so we can do what we like', it may be that the courts will say 'no it's not like that, and we will impose damages that will make you think before you would do this again', but that's a matter for the judge not for me."

Of course, the story would never have become public without the complicity of one of the prostitutes involved in the session.

"We will find out (how much she was allegedly paid by the newspaper) because she's going to have to hand that over anyway, to charity (if he successfully takes legal action against her).

"I think she's beneath contempt," he adds, "because it's not just what she did to me, she was friends with the other four and a close friend of one of them, who was the one who said she was trustworthy, and she completely betrayed that trust, and to behave like that is extraordinary.

"The other four I think are shocked that this has happened. It's just something you don't do. And you see, you have to understand that all of those women are into this, it's not as though they were sort of off the street and asked to do something unpleasant in return for money.

"You don't betray your friends and people you do things with. This she has done, and she will obviously be ostracised by all sorts of people, but I just think it's something that most people wouldn't do for any amount of money."

Ever since the story broke there have been calls for Mosley to stand down, even if many inhabitants of 'Planet Paddock' are opting to keep schtum at present, at least in public. Mosley makes it clear exactly why he has no intention of standing down from his role, yet.

Asked why he has not stood down, Mosley says: "The fundamental reason is that the people who elected me, the presidents of all these clubs worldwide, a number of them have written, and for every letter I've had from a club president saying 'I think you should step down' or 'I think you should consider your position', I've had seven, slightly more than seven, who said 'you've absolutely got to stay, don't give an inch', and 'this is the most outrageous invasion', and suggesting that there's more to this than meets the eye, which of course there may be.

"It would then be impossible to turn around to all these people, the great majority, and say, 'no I'm going to walk away', even if I'm inclined to. But my inclination is to stay and fight.

"As far as the people in the sport are concerned, it's interesting that none of the heavyweights have said anything, the people who really are the opinion formers in Formula 1. There's a few ex-drivers. But they're based on the idea that somehow you can't have in your life any sort of sexual activity that's at all eccentric. That's a view that most people grow out of when they pass through adolescence. Most people say if somebody likes doing that, if it's not harming anybody, if it's in private and it's completely secret and personal, it's nothing to do with me."

However, Mosley then reveals that sex-scandal aside, he had always intended stepping down next year anyway. However, he doesn't want it all to end like this, pointing out that there is much he has achieved during his time as head of the FIA.

"What I can say is that I'll go to the General Assembly and say 'this is what's happened, do you want me to go or do you want me to stay?' And it's a matter for them. It really is a matter for them, it's not a matter for old drivers and things of that kind.

"It's always difficult to talk about oneself but I've always wanted to be able to sit down, if I live that long, when I'm 80 and feel that I've actually made a difference. And there are things like the Encap (European New Car Assessment Programme), which would not have happened without us, there are all sorts of road safety campaigns that would not have happened without us, there is the acceleration of the introduction of - I know it sounds a bit anoracky - but electronic stability control, which is the biggest safety breakthrough since the seatbelt, and we are I think directly responsible for making sure that comes into the EU sooner that it would.

"So I can honestly say, and this is the thing that gives me great professional satisfaction, that as far as road cars are concerned, there are an awful lot of people walking around today healthy and uninjured, who would not have been walking around healthy and uninjured had I not done what I've been doing for the last 15 years. And it sounds a bit boastful, but that's a fact.

"In motor sport," he continues, "I think there are one or two drivers who would be dead had it not been for what we've done in the last 15 years. That's certainly the opinion of the experts. But in motor sport the numbers are much smaller - the thing that really counts is the roads, where you literally are talking thousands.

"It's difficult to comprehend these numbers but the way I always think about it, I imagine the individual family. And if you think of the knock on the door, the policeman comes with the news, and how awful that is, and I always say to the politicians, if you were there when that happened, with a little bit of imagination, you would be much more interested in road safety. That's been really the big work in the FIA.

"But if they wish me to continue, I will continue, if they don't, I'll stop. But I will also say to them that it was always my intention, because it is, that I was never going to go beyond 2009. I kept quiet about that because the lesson with Tony Blair is, the day you say you're going to stop, you lose your influence. And I would normally have announced that in about a year's time. But I will tell them anyway that would be my intention. The reason's very simple. If you stop in 2009 aged 69, you can maybe still do something else useful. Were I to stay on till I was 73, I'd be getting very marginal."

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Published: 20/04/2008
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