Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Myths and Lies About Article 8 and the Human Rights Act

Long post alert! So long I have split it into two parts. Sorry if I dip into legalese at times, I am also afraid that BDSM is not something I'm too knowledgeable about, so if I've got anything wrong please let me know.

The European Convention Of Human Rights.

"Article 8
1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

There has much moaning and groaning among certain sections of the press concerning the judgement by the Honourable Mr Justice Eady in the case of Mosley v News Group Newspapers Ltd. ([2008] EWHC 1777 (QB) (24 July 2008)). More recently by the Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre (BBC NEWS | UK | Mail editor accuses Mosley judge).

In the original News Of The World 'exclusive' which in their typical style they called a "Sick Nazi Orgy" images from a concealed camera were published in print and online of Max Mosley head of the governing body of world motorsport taking part in BDSM with five prostitutes.

After independent evaluation of the film by a respected Q.C. no evidence could be found of any Nazi activity.

When it went to the High Court Mosley won his case claiming breach of privacy dismissing the defence that it was in the public interest.

This was the right decision because.
  1. He has not displayed hypocrisy by publicly supporting any anti-prostitution or anti-s and m cause.
  2. The participants were consenting adults.
  3. He is a victim of his parents being prominent fascists, the crimes of the father should not automatically pass to the child.
  4. By the nature of the scene he was engaged in privacy and discretion is pretty much inferred and should not require a written agreement. "Woman E" breached that duty of confidence.
  5. Paying a dominatrix is not illegal.
  6. There is no legitimate public interest other than a bit of titillation, his employers probably are entitled to know but the public isn't.
  7. The claim it affected him doing his job is laughable other than the fact he probably sits down a little gingerly.
  8. He's not a public servant (and even then its debatable).
  9. He has not made a living out of selling his private life to the media.
  10. Adulterous or unconventional or "perverted" behaviour does not automatically give the media permission to intrude.
  11. It was not responsible journalism.
  12. It was on private property.
The losers for invading his privacy had to pay £60,000 a mere drop in the ocean for the Murdoch empire, although with costs it will be a lot more.

The response from the NOTW was predictable claiming it was a restriction on press freedom. This despite the fact that Eady had weighed up the rights (and responsibilities) afforded to press freedom in Article 10 and dismissed them.

The newspaper reporter also behaved wretchedly in effectively blackmailing "woman A" and "woman B" for as Eady put it.

"This would appear to contain a clear threat to the women involved that unless they cooperated with Mr Thurlbeck (albeit in exchange for some money) their identities would be revealed on the following Sunday. He was as good as his word and attached photographs and also some extracts from their websites. This was obviously to bring home to them the scale of the threatened exposé."

"Perhaps to their credit, the two women concerned resisted these blandishments and thus risked the further exposure he had threatened."

While hindering the sort of investigations perpetuated by the NOTW and others. I can see nothing that affects serious journalistic investigation of corruption or crime etc. which the NOTW has also done and broken some great stories.

Which brings me to the claims of the Mail's editor. Firstly it wasn't an amoral selective judgement for the reasons above and that important point he applied the law, he didn't make it. All he wants is carte blanche to condemn individuals in pursuit of the Mail's standards of morality. The laws applying the provisions into law were debated and passed by a democratically elected body, the judgement can be appealed.

The right to privacy included in the Human Rights Act is not too dissimilar to the old common law claim for breach of a duty of confidence. Something I will continue in part two alongside the misconceptions about the ECHR and critique of some media coverage.


  1. The phrase 'sitched up' springs to mind.

    A few years ago, ITV's investigative journalists decided to persue news paper editors with, what we now call, 'pap treatment': telescopic lenses, car stakeouts, etc. Pretty obviously, it got right on their collective nerves.... not that the papers then backed off in pursuit of 'the story'.

    I sometimes wonder in the hunger for the scoop, that the people involved forget that they are writing about people... people who have feelings. What Mr Mosley gets up to is his business and really, do we need to know how he gets his kicks? It is news? Aren't their more important things to think about? :)

  2. I rather assumed that this particular case had much more to do with certain factions in F1 wanting to see Mosley deposed and to blacken Ecclestone's name in the process...


  3. This is all about prurient journos selling papers. There are lots of thing I don't like and don't approve of, but if no-one gets hurt then it is not my concern. The 'gutter' press have that appelation for a reason...

    The broadsheets are not that far removed from the tabloids as we'd like to think.


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