Motor sport

Max Mosley: The colorful motorsport chief has become a strong privacy advocate

Max Mosley, former racing driver, lawyer, racing car builder and chairman of motorsport’s world governing body, has lived an extraordinary life.

Mosley, who died of cancer at the age of 81, was a political giant in the world of motorsport and a longtime campaigner for the safety of his cars, but that’s unlikely to be what we’re wondering. remember best.

Britain will instead remember him as the son of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of Britain’s fascist party of the 1930s, and as the figurehead of motorsport whose sadomasochistic sexual tendencies made the front page of a tabloid in 2008. .

Mosley was the subject of a News of the World sting, in which the newspaper used a hidden camera to film a sex session with five prostitutes, and ran a front-page story accusing him of participating in an orgy Nazi themed.

Mosley successfully sued News of the World for invasion of his privacy, proving in the High Court that the Nazi element had been a fabrication.

But in the public eye, those tabloid images defined him, and some colleagues and friends turned against him.

In a new documentary, ‘Mosley: It’s Complicated’, slated for theatrical release in July, longtime friend and former Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone talks about his decision to briefly withdraw his friend’s support .

Max Mosley (centre) speaks to the press as he leaves the High Court in London after winning his case against News of the World

(PA Archive)

Ecclestone said: “Of all the things I’ve done in my life, this is the one thing I’m ashamed of.”

After the news of Mosley’s death, Ecclestone told the PA news agency: “Max was like family to me. We were like brothers. I’m happy in a way because he suffered too long.

A month after his birth on April 13, 1940, Mosley and his brother Alexander were separated from their father and then their mother, Lady Diana Mosley, after both had been interned by British authorities for their fascist activities.

Lady Diana had been a prominent aristocratic socialite, one of the Mitford sisters, and had been a strong supporter of fascist political causes.

Max Mosley was the son of British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley

(PA Archive)

Mosley’s parents were married at the home of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels in 1936, guest of honor Adolf Hitler.

Her mother was also friends with Winston Churchill, while former poet laureate John Betjeman was her godfather.

Looking back in history, Mosley’s life was never going to be simple.

The release of Sir Oswald and Lady Mosley from Holloway Prison in 1943 sparked widespread public protest and Mosley attended various schools in Britain, France and Germany before studying physics at Oxford University .

Mosley then trained as a barrister and became a lawyer, specializing in patent and trademark law, while his spare time was spent motor racing.

Max Mosley at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix

(PA Archive)

He raced for Brabham and Lotus in Formula 2 and, after retiring from driving in 1969, co-founded March Engineering, which quickly became one of the world’s leading racing car manufacturers.

Mosley oversaw March’s legal and business affairs from 1969 to 1977 and became official legal counsel to the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA) in the mid-1970s.

He helped draft a peace agreement between OFAC and FISA, F1’s governing body at the time, and became FISA president in 1991.

Two years later, he took over as unopposed helm of motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, leading the sport’s safety reforms that followed Ayrton Senna’s death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. .

As President, Mosley is committed to the FIA ​​making a difference in the world outside of motor racing and working to promote increased road safety and the use of green technologies.

In 1996 Mosley led the FIA’s successful campaign to modernize and strengthen European Union crash test standards for the first time since 1974 and also promoted the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) , the independent crash test organization.

In 2004, Mosley helped establish the FIA ​​Institute for Motor Sport Safety to develop and improve safety measures in all areas of motor sport, from junior racing to top-level championships.

He was re-elected FIA president three times – in 1997, 2001 and 2005 – each time unopposed before Jean Todt replaced him in 2009.

After stories about his sex life in the British tabloids and his successful court battle, he became a high profile campaigner for stricter press regulation.

Max Mosley testifies before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee about his treatment by the media

(PA Archive)

He donated millions of pounds to help fund various press reform groups and funded some of the victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

He filed a lawsuit against Google in Germany, arguing that the search engine linked to illegal images. The two parties reached an agreement in 2015.

Mosley, who had been involved in his father’s post-war party, the far-right labor movement, in his teens and early twenties, gave up attempts to launch a political career with the Conservative Party in the 1980s, claiming that his name would have been a liability.

He joined the Labor Party under Tony Blair and later became a donor.

Max Mosley married his wife Jean in 1960.

(PA wire)

Mosley married his wife Jean, the daughter of a London policeman, at the Chelsea Register Office in June 1960 and their sons Alexander and Patrick were born in 1970 and 1972.

In the News of the World court case in 2008, Mosley said his wife never knew of his interest in sadomasochism.

Mosley’s son Alexander died aged 39 in 2009 after the coroner ruled his death was due to non-dependent drug addiction.