Max Mosley, the former president of Formula One, was in a European court on 10 January hoping to secure a new law barring newspapers from publishing details of people's private lives without forewarning.
Mr Mosley is asking the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to make it illegal for a newspaper to publish intrusive material without prior notification. He claimed yesterday that it was a “great fallacy” to think this would inhibit press freedom.
But campaigners have warned that a “prior notification” rule could damage valid investigative journalism as well as suppressing “kiss and tell” journalism, by giving anyone who does not like what is about to appear about them in the press time to seek an injunction to prevent publication. The UK Government opposes Mr Mosley's application.
Mr Mosley won R642 000 in damages from the News of the World, which published graphic details of a sado-masochistic orgy in which he was involved with five women. He has complained that he did not know the newspaper had information on him until he read about it on the day it was published.
“It's really a very simple thing that if a newspaper is going to write something about your private life, or something you might reasonably wish to keep reasonably private, that they should tell you beforehand,” Mosley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
He added: “The fact of the matter is, in 99 cases out of 100, if they are going to write something about someone of any real interest, they will approach the person.”
But Geoffrey Robinson QC warned: “The vast scope of the new law which is contended for is so vague as to be unworkable.” -The Independent