Max Mosley’s legal action against the Daily Mail’s publisher for sending prosecutors a dossier questioning whether he lied on oath was today thrown out by a High Court judge.
The former Formula 1 boss had claimed Associated Newspapers reported ‘bogus concerns’ to the Crown Prosecution Service ‘to be able to publish damaging stories’ about him in order to ‘counter his own campaign for fairer regulation of the press’.
The claims were that Mr Mosley may have committed perjury at the trial of his privacy claim against the now-defunct News Of The World more than a decade ago.
Mr Mosley, 80, said the Daily Mail ‘set the law in motion against him to further its own regulatory and commercial objectives and not to achieve any proper purpose’ and was suing for damages for malicious prosecution.
But in October the newspaper applied to strike out Mr Mosley’s case, arguing that Mr Mosley had no claim against the Mail because no ‘prosecution’ had taken place.
Former Formula 1 boss Max Mosley had taken legal action against Associated Newspapers
This morning, Mr Justice Nicklin remotely delivered his ruling on the application and agreed that Mr Mosley’s claim should be thrown out.
The judge said: ‘The claimant’s pleaded claim discloses no reasonable grounds for bringing his claim for malicious prosecution.’
Mr Justice Nicklin said that it was ‘clear from the way that the claimant has pleaded and advanced his claim that his real complaint is about the reputational harm caused by publication of the articles’, which said that the dossier had been sent to the CPS.
But he added: ‘It was not the submission of the ‘dossier’ to the CPS that caused the reputational damage of which the claimant complains, it was publication of the articles.’
Walter Hesketh (left), an unsuccessful British Union Movement candidate in the Moss Side Parliamentary by-election in 1961, is pictured with Max Mosley (right), who was then his agent
Mr Justice Nicklin said: ‘The claimant was not left without remedy for any reputational harm caused by publication of the articles. He could have sued in libel. He did not do so.
‘Even had I considered there was scope to do so, there is no compelling reason or justification, on the facts of this case, to attempt to fashion the law of malicious prosecution in a way that would provide a remedy when the law provided the claimant with a perfectly adequate and readily available avenue of redress through the law of defamation.’
In February 2018, the Daily Mail unearthed an election pamphlet supporting a candidate for Sir Oswald Mosley’s far-right Union Movement, Walter Hesketh, in a 1961 by-election.
The leaflet, which stated it was ‘published by Max Mosley’, Mr Hesketh’s election agent, linked non-white immigrants with diseases such as tuberculosis, VD and leprosy and claimed that ‘coloured immigration threatens your children’s health’.
The leaflet, which stated it was ‘published by Max Mosley’ (circled), Mr Hesketh’s election agent, linked non-white immigrants with diseases such as tuberculosis, VD and leprosy and claimed that ‘coloured immigration threatens your children’s health’
The newspaper suggested the pamphlet, which it described as ‘arguably one of the most racist official leaflets ever published in a modern British parliamentary election’, raised questions over whether Mr Mosley ‘lied at his orgy privacy trial’.
Mr Mosley successfully sued the publisher of the News Of The World more than a decade ago, after the newspaper wrongly reported he had attended a ‘Nazi-themed’ sex party.
At the trial in 2008, Mr Mosley described suggestions that ‘leaflets were put out alleging coloured immigrants brought leprosy, syphilis and TB’ in the 1961 campaign as ‘absolute nonsense’.
The Daily Mail claimed the newly-found leaflet ‘raises the question of whether Mr Mosley committed perjury’ during his privacy case against the News Of The World.
The Daily Mail suggested that the pamphlet, which it described as ‘arguably one of the most racist official leaflets ever published in a modern British parliamentary election’, raised questions over whether Mr Mosley ‘lied at his orgy privacy trial’.
The newspaper also passed documents, including a copy of the leaflet and a transcript of Mr Mosley’s evidence, to the CPS, which in turn passed the material on to the police.
The Metropolitan Police later decided not to launch a criminal investigation, the court heard.
Mr Mosley’s lawyers claimed the Daily Mail ran ‘sustained personal attacks’ against him as a ‘prominent campaigner for press reform’.
They also argued that there was ‘no prospect’ Mr Mosley could face charges of perjury, as his evidence about the leaflet was ‘completely irrelevant to the outcome of the trial’, which they say the newspaper ‘knew perfectly well’.
At a brief hearing this afternoon, Mr Justice Nicklin refused an application by Mr Mosley’s lawyers for permission to appeal against his ruling, saying an appeal would have no “realistic prospect of success”.
The judge also ordered Mr Mosley to make a payment on account of Associated Newspapers’ costs of £50,000.