Friday, July 25, 2008

Public Interest or Private Matter?

The ruling in the case of Max Mosley versus the News of the World has gone in favour of the boss of world motorsport. Mr Justice Eady said Mr Mosley could expect privacy for consensual "sexual activities (albeit unconventional)".Fair enough. I'm not vaguely interested in what people do in their bedrooms, or indeed in a London basement.

However, there is a broader principle at stake here. It's the "public interest" defence that was used by the newspaper. Let me make one thing clear. I'm not a fan of the News of the World, but I am a part-time journalist. My view is that people who run large organisations, and who expect respect from us as a result of their position, also have a duty to behave in a proper manner. In my own small way, I'm in charge of a an organisation too - the Professional Speakers Association. As President, I feel an obligation to the members to set an example in terms of behavior. As it happens, I don't have the proclivities that Mr Mosley has admitted to (though I do still harbour lustful thoughts about Julie Christie). But I think that your private behavior should reflect your public position. Mr Mosley, and the judge, clearly disagree. The judgement, in my view, is a bad one for journalism, and a worse one for society in general.

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