Steeles beats Farrers in Mosley orgy case

Steeles beats Farrers in Mosley orgy caseNorfolk-based firm Steeles Law has won Formula 1 chief Max Mosley £60,000 in damages after suing the News of the World for breach of privacy.

Mosley took action against the Sunday newspaper after it secretly filmed him taking part in a sex orgy, which involved a portrayal of sadomasochism.

During the five-day trial, 68-year-old Mosley admitted a consensual sadomasochistic sex session with five prostitutes at a London flat in March, but denied that it had a Nazi theme. News of the World’s story was based on a secret video from one of the women.

Mr Justice Eady, handing down his judgment in the High Court today (24 July), held that apart from the “unusual facts” of the proceedings there was nothing landmark about the decision as it relied on established principles.

Eady J continued: “Nor can it seriously be suggested that the case is likely to inhibit serious investigative journalism into crime or wrongdoing, where the public interest is more genuinely engaged.”

The court held that awarding Mosley £60,000 opposed to the exemplary or punitive damages sought by the F1 boss was adequate to compensate for “for the injury to feelings, the embarrassment and distress caused”.

The judge held that he was not persuaded that higher damages would act as deterrence. Eady J ruled: “That does not seem to me to be a legitimate exercise in awarding compensatory damages.”

Farrer & Co, which acted for News of the World, will take some comfort from the damages having been limited. A source close to the case told The Lawyer that the newspaper was bracing itself for at least a £150,000 award. The legal costs for both sides will hit £1m (The Lawyer, 14 July).

Eady J added: “It has to be recognised that no amount of damages can fully compensate the Claimant for the damage done. He is hardly exaggerating when he says that his life was ruined.”

5 Raymond Buildings’ Mark Warby QC was instructed by Farrer & Co partner Benjamin Beabey for the News of the World, while James Price QC of the same set acted for Mosley after being instructed by Steeles Law litigation chief Dominic Crossley.