LONDON — Motor racing chief Max Mosley went to court Monday to deny a newspaper's claim that he took part in a Nazi-themed orgy with prostitutes, saying there are "few things more unerotic" than Nazi role-playing.
Mosley, who acknowledges having a sadomasochistic encounter with sex workers, is suing the tabloid News of the World for invasion of privacy. His lawyer said the tabloid had breached the privacy of the president of racing's governing body "for the amusement of its readers."
"Every ordinary human being expects the privacy of their sexual life to be respected and would be outraged if it was not," attorney James Price told the court.
The newspaper, however, says readers have a right to know about the antics of Mosley, the son of Britain's best-known fascist politician, because he is a public figure.
Hidden cameras caught encounter
Hidden cameras recorded Mosley, 68, as he met five women in a London apartment earlier this year for what the newspaper said was a five-hour sex session complete with Nazi role-playing. The newspaper ran the story on its front page, and video of the encounter on the paper's Web site was viewed more than 1.4 million times within a day.
After the story broke in March, Mosley faced calls to quit as president of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, which oversees Formula One. Despite the pressure, the FIA chief won a confidence vote last month allowing him to stay until his fourth term ends in October 2009.
Taking the witness stand at the start of a two-week High Court hearing, Mosley said he had paid 2,500 pounds or $5,000 for the "party," but insisted no Nazi fantasies were involved. The News of the World said participants wore German-style uniforms and spoke in German as they acted out scenes involving prisoners and guards.
Mosley said he and the women had acted out a German prison scenario, but without any military aspect.
The Nazi allegations are especially sensitive because Mosley is the son of the late Oswald Mosley, leader of Britain's fascist movement before World War II and a friend of Adolf Hitler.
"There was not even a hint of that," Mosley said of the Nazi claims. He said he could "think of few things more unerotic than Nazi role-play."
Price told the court this trial "is not a forum to debate the evils or otherwise of Sir Oswald Mosley."
"The sins of the father cannot justly be visited on Mr. Mosley," Price said.
Interest in sadomasochism private
Mosley echoed that thought.
"All my life, I have had hanging over me my antecedents, my parents, and the last thing I want to do in some sexual context is be reminded of it," he said.
Price said Mosley's long-standing interest in sadomasochism was purely a private matter.
"Most people probably think S&M behavior — spanking, bondage, whipping, role play like doctors and nurses, sheiks and harems, guards and prisoners — is harmless and private and even funny," the lawyer said.
Mosley's lawyers are demanding the tabloid pay large punitive damages to discourage similar stories, but the newspaper says the case has huge ramifications for the media's ability to cover public figures.
"This case raises fundamental issues about the rapidly advancing law of privacy and the extent to which it allows powerful people to suppress information and stifle free speech," Tom Crone, the paper's legal manager, said Sunday.
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