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Leveson 2, the Daily Mail and Me - by Max Mosley

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Leveson 2, the Daily Mail and Me - by Max Mosley
Byline Investigations has uncovered evidence that up to six journalists were tasked to investigate Max Mosley a year ago, and held back material to coincide with the Government's decision on Leveson 2. For this reason, we are publishing his response with a declaration of interest beneath

AT THE end of February, Daily Mail readers must have thought something had gone haywire at their paper. 

For several days, it ran page after page about me, sometimes up to eleven on one day, including the front cover, all about things that happened more than 50 years ago. 

Some Mail readers would be vaguely aware that I had been involved in Formula One and had once sued the News of the World, but they would be quite unable to fathom why the Mail had suddenly become totally obsessed with me, a minor figure from the world of sport administration, and why their paper thought any of it at all interesting.

The explanation lies in two things that greatly alarm the Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre, one of which he blames entirely on me. They are the second part of the Leveson Inquiry and the independent press regulator, IMPRESS.

Having been recognised, IMPRESS makes possible Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act. The thought horrifies Dacre because S.40 means anyone, not just the very rich, could sue the Daily Mail for libel. 

It’s anathema to him that an ordinary citizen might have access to justice when attacked by a national newspaper. And S.40, overwhelmingly supported by a 530 to 13 vote in the House of Commons, provides just that. My family charity has indirectly supplied most of the funding for IMPRESS, so Dacre blames me for the threat of S.40.

Neutralising Tom Watson

But perhaps more even than S.40, I believe he fears any continuing inquiry into the press. The Leveson Inquiry was put on hold until the phone-hacking trials had finished, but now that the second part can start, the serious criminality and other wrongdoing, so far concealed, can be exposed. 

Like his fellow newspaper bosses, Dacre realises that if the full truth is revealed, there are likely to be severe repercussions. That is why the Sun, the Mirror, the Telegraph and the Sunday Times all joined his attack on me in what was quite clearly a coordinated campaign with, I suspect, the benefit of prior knowledge of the government’s plans.

But what, you may ask, does all this have to do with what I did 56 years ago? And why suddenly this massive attack at the end of February? What was the significance of that date?

It’s not just phone hacking, computer hacking, bribery and theft, other offences will emerge. For example, several newspaper witnesses are accused of lying on oath at the first part of the Leveson Inquiry. That could be serious. 

And as Sir Brian Leveson said in his letter to the ministers: “conflicting (and irreconcilable) accounts were given by different people working within the same organisation” when they gave evidence on oath in the criminal trials. Details of perjury are bound to emerge in Leveson 2.

But what, you may ask, does all this have to do with what I did 56 years ago? And why suddenly this massive attack at the end of February? What was the significance of that date?

All became clear when on 1 March, after well over a year of prevarication, the government announced the cancellation of Leveson 2 and the intended repeal of S.40. They knew this would attract fierce criticism in Parliament and in the country.

After all, the government had solemnly promised the phone hacking victims that Leveson 2 would take place and everyone except the national press and their political allies fully understood that S.40 was needed to provide inexpensive justice for all (including local newspapers).

The press and ministers were desperate to hide or at least distract attention from this total capitulation. The major newspapers had forced a weak government to instruct its MPs to reverse the 530 to 13 votes for S.40 and also cancel Leveson 2, despite the then prime minister’s solemn promise to the newspapers’ victims. 

One minister even tried to conceal from parliament that Sir Brian Leveson had written to the government saying he “fundamentally disagreed” with its decision to cancel Leveson 2.

With all these problems, certain newspapers, as well as the government, knew they needed somehow to neutralise the shadow secretary of state for the media, Tom Watson. Otherwise, he would expose what they were doing and rally parliament and the general public to stop them. 

Knowing that a significant proportion of the funds for Tom Watson’s political office came from me, they set out to weaken him and distract the public by means of a massive attack on me. I believe that was the main reason for the utterly absurd amount of publicity over a number of days.

Track Record

But there was a problem. I had spent more than 50 years in various roles in British motorsport, helping to build it into a world-leading industry with a turnover of 9 billion GBP. And since 1991, more than 130 countries had repeatedly elected me president of the world governing body for all motorsport, not just Formula One. 

On top of that, with a small group of colleagues and backed by the world’s major motoring organisations, I had spent the last 25 years working very successfully to save tens of thousands of lives on the public roads.

They made great use of a leaflet apparently issued when I was an election agent for my father’s party in 1961. It should never have been printed and I’m surprised that it bore my name but I had no recollection of it when it was referred to in my 2008 case against the News of the World, as I said at the time, and I still have absolutely no memory of it.  

We did this in many different countries starting with the EU in the mid-1990s. We helped to transform the way road cars are built in Europe, greatly accelerating the adoption of major safety improvements. The Belgian government recently confirmed this has saved 78,000 EU lives over the last 20 years. For the past 15 years, we have been active globally, including persuading the United Nations to adopt the safety rules we successfully campaigned for in the European Parliament and the EU Commission back in 1997. 

Increasingly, our work in emerging countries is taking effect and it is here that road casualties are most damaging. For example, 400 people die on the roads in India every day and, worldwide, road traffic is the biggest single killer of young people in the 15 to 24 age group. When you think how unbearably awful a road death is for a family, and multiply that by tens of thousands, you get an idea of how important that work has been. 

I wonder if Dacre, Rothermere or Murdoch ever give that a moment’s thought? I doubt it.

My road safety work had been recognised by many international awards including the French Legion d’Honneur. So, apart from a much-publicised court case when I successfully sued the News of the World for invasion of privacy and criticism of me because of my parentage (including trying to blame me for the guests at my parents’ wedding), my work in motorsport and on road safety did not make for easy criticism. All the lies and spin they like to deploy were not going to help much in the face of my record. But they were desperate to get at Tom so, deprived of anything current, they decided to go back more than half a century.

What they did was attack me for helping my father’s political party, the Union Movement, during my time as a student between 1957 and 1963. They dug up every conceivable article and reference to try to label me a fascist and racist, notwithstanding that over the intervening 55 years I have repeatedly demonstrated that I am neither. 

They made great use of a leaflet apparently issued when I was an election agent for my father’s party in 1961. It should never have been printed and I’m surprised that it bore my name but I had no recollection of it when it was referred to in my 2008 case against the News of the World, as I said at the time, and I still have absolutely no memory of it. It’s not something I would have approved of even in 1961 and is a million miles away from representing my views. The Mail’s attempt to use this ancient material in an attempt to undermine the press reforms I support is desperate stuff indeed.

'Putin's Work'

The all-out attack by the Daily Mail and the rest of Fleet Street went on for several days, with up to six photographers outside my house. Obviously, anyone would find the inaccuracies, smears and lies (and there were plenty of those) distressing, but, standing back, what this really demonstrates to me is how acutely worried the worst elements of the press are about S.40 and what Leveson 2 will reveal.

Dacre has a collection of failed hacks and ageing harpies to set on anyone he dislikes, and I am told this time he added the former News of the World blackmailer and phone hacker, Neville Thurlbeck, to his team. That’s a bit low, even for Dacre. 

Only visceral fear would make them go to such lengths. Although we are aware of some of their criminality, only the newspapers themselves know just how extensive it is. Their lawyers will have told them what will happen to them if the truth gets out. The fury of their attack suggests to me that there may be a lot more to come than I had thought. It shows how serious they know the consequences will be if Leveson 2 reveals the full truth.

In the hope of fending off much-needed scrutiny, Dacre has rallied his supporters. Like Lenin, he has his useful idiots. These include the ridiculous faux toff, Jacob Rees-Mogg (who for some strange reason seems desperate to be taken for something he’s not) and the deeply inadequate Matt Hancock, whose attempts in the CMS Select Committee to wriggle out of his deception of parliament went viral on social media. 

Another politician, Ruth Davidson, suggested in the Sunday Telegraph that my campaign for Leveson 2 and S.40 was “doing Putin’s work”. It takes a very special kind of obtuseness to describe a 530 to 13 vote in our Parliament, not to mention Sir Brian Leveson’s careful recommendations, as “Putin’s work”.

Then there’s the journalists. Dacre has a collection of failed hacks and ageing harpies to set on anyone he dislikes, and I am told this time he added the former News of the World blackmailer and phone hacker, Neville Thurlbeck, to his team. That’s a bit low, even for Dacre. 

The Mail sent a hack all the way to South Africa hoping, I suspect, to find that Formula One profited from Apartheid. Instead, he is likely to have learned that we tried to move the SA grand prix to newly-independent Zimbabwe in 1982 and stopped it altogether after 1985. When it resumed following the end of Apartheid, Cyril Ramaphosa was at the race. He wanted to meet Murray Walker, so I introduced them, but that’s not the sort of story Dacre wanted.

One reason Dacre has been doing his utmost to destroy my reputation is because I fought back successfully when my privacy was illegally invaded by the News of the World and have campaigned ever since to reduce legal costs so that others can do the same without risking bankruptcy. The other reason is to discourage victims of Mail smears from suing by demonstrating how it can target its enemies on a huge scale. I believe it hopes to intimidate its victims, many of whom have strong cases.

The Problem of Oligopoly

What makes all this even more serious is our national press is an oligopoly. Two men, Rothermere and Murdoch, own more than half the entire online and print publications in the United Kingdom. Four proprietors account for 80% of copies sold. No rational adult would describe that as a free press. When those newspapers talk of press freedom, they mean freedom to ignore the rights of individuals in pursuit of profit for their proprietors. 

And to describe (as they do) IPSO, their wholly-owned and controlled so-called regulator, as independent, is beyond parody. IPSO is there for the newspapers, not for the public. Their supporters among politicians know all this perfectly well but are prepared to accept blatant abuse of power in return for political support and, in some cases, silence about their peccadillos. What contemptible people.

Four proprietors account for 80% of copies sold. No rational adult would describe that as a free press. When those newspapers talk of press freedom, they mean freedom to ignore the rights of individuals in pursuit of profit for their proprietors.  

In the end, we are all responsible for our actions. I would far rather take responsibility for my life (including the mistakes) than be a Murdoch or a Rothermere or the hired lowlifes like Dacre and Kelvin MacKenzie who do their dirty work for them. The nature of that work is perfectly illustrated in the recent Kerslake report on the Manchester bombing which also shows how absurd is the government’s claim that the press has reformed itself since the first part of the Leveson Inquiry.

After all that we await the vote in parliament on the cancellation of Leveson 2 as well as an application for Judicial Review by some of the victims of press abuse, challenging the government’s decisions to cancel Leveson 2 and not commence S.40. The government has yet to announce how it proposes to repeal S.40.

It is said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We cannot learn from history unless it is available. The press, particularly the Daily Mail, only like to examine history when it suits their purposes. That’s why Leveson 2 is essential. Without it, the lessons will not be learned and press misconduct will continue unchecked. 

Max Mosley is one of over a dozen shareholders in Byline Media Holdings Ltd owning less than 5% of the equity. He has never made any editorial comment or sought to interfere in any business decision. We are publishing his response in the public interest because of the unlikelihood it will be published fully elsewhere. 

Byline is also a member of the Leveson compliant regulator IMPRESS, which is independently and transparently funded (according to the official Press Recognition Panel) by a charity established in the name of Mr Mosley's son. 

#Tom Watson, #Paul Dacre, #Daily Mail, #News of the World, #Max Mosley

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