Monday, July 28, 2008

If you haven't read it...'s the judgment in the Max Mosley case. I could explain it for the benefit of Americans, but the first paragraph of Mr Justice Eady's judgment pretty much tells you where we're coming from here.

This is worth reading for all sorts of reasons. Non-lawyers should feel free to skip past the stuff about exemplary damages, but otherwise, it's a vastly entertaining read - not just for the reasons you'd expect, but also for providing an amazing glimpse into the ethical landscape of the News of the World, whose witnesses genuinely couldn't get their heads around the idea that threatening to expose people unless they co-operate is (literally) blackmail.

Even better, it turns out that after offering their informant £25K to film the event in secret, they stiffed her for half the money. ("The editor gave the reason that they like to renegotiate downwards when in a strong negotiating position. They were affected by the credit crunch like everyone else.")

It's a genuinely interesting case in terms of the trend of privacy law; there's a clear trend towards the courts clamping down on the most plainly indefensible excesses of the tabloids, and giving short shrift to ludicrous "public interest" claims.

But it's also worth reading just to enjoy Mr Justice Eady, who deals with most of London's major libel cases, at his most laconic. My personal favourite paragraph:
Mr Thurlbeck also relied upon the fact that the Claimant was "shaved". Concentration camp inmates were also shaved. Yet, as Mr Price pointed out, they had their heads shaved. The Claimant, for reasons best known to himself, enjoyed having his bottom shaved – apparently for its own sake rather than because of any supposed Nazi connotation. He explained to me that while this service was being performed he was (no doubt unwisely) "shaking with laughter". I naturally could not check from the DVD, as it was not his face that was on display.