The Press Establishment does not like people who not only have the resources to take them to the cleaners, but do so. It’s bad enough having to settle with the likes of Jo Rowling at the door of the court, but when people like Max Mosley come back with claims of misrepresentation, that is too much for the poor dears. And that is what Mosley has done. So our free and fearless press has taken the usual action in response.
Max Mosley - objects to continual press dishonesty
That is, to no surprise at all, to talk well, but lie badly. So we get the Murdoch Times whining plaintively “Ex-F1 boss begins legal bid to limit free speech”, while downmarket sister title the Sun has gone with “MAX MUZZLEY Max Mosley has begun a legal bid to gag the Press forever over his S&M orgy”. Meanwhile, the Mail has brought readers “Max Mosley launches legal bid to scrub his notorious German-themed orgy from history in a chilling attack on Press freedom”. This is mostly untrue, but hey ho.
No-one can object to free speech, or even free dissenting speech, and Mosley does not. He does, however, take exception to the Murdoch and Rothermere press printing falsehoods about him on a regular basis (and talking about a matter which was judged to have been private when he took the Screws to the cleaners).
So when the Times protests that he is “trying to ban newspapers from asserting that he personally funds or bankrolls Impress, the state-recognised press regulator, or can exert control or influence over it”, there is a gaping hole in their irony continuum opening up before their eyes. Mosley does not personally fund Impress, which is not “state recognised”, and cannot exert any influence upon it.
But it is when these less than totally august titles protest about potential use of Data Protection legislation that the biscuit is well and truly taken. The Mail has delegated this part of its fightback to Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover, who puts on his customary straight face and proclaims “[the DPA] was never intended to be applied to newspapers. This is a novel and terrifying development”. This is 100% certified bullshit.
Glover has, perhaps deliberately, forgotten the saga of Steve Whittamore, whose house in the Hampshire coast town of New Milton was turned over by the Police at the behest of the Information Commissioner in March 2003. Whittamore traded in information gathering, most of which was of an illegal nature. Driving licence details, bank statements, credit card details, criminal records, phone call records, Steve was the press’ main man.
Of 13,343 information requests made to Whittamore in the preceding three years, it was estimated that 11,345 were, as Nick Davies put it in Flat Earth News, “classified as being either certainly or very probably in breach of the Data Protection Act”. And Steve’s number one customer? Davies again: “it was the Daily Mail which was the most active single buyer - sixty-three Mail journalists had made a total of 985 requests (an average of at least one every single working day over the three years”. Hello Stephen Glover.
On that basis, Max Mosley and his legal team have good cause to invoke data protection law. The only reason the press is protesting is that someone out there is calling them out for pretending that law somehow doesn’t apply to them. It does.
All that Max Mosley is doing is to bring a dose of reality to the press. Good thing too.