Why Max Mosley should resign

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Having read Max Mosley’s statement about the News of the World allegations my opinion has not changed very much from what I first wrote about the scandal on Sunday:

The News of the World’s story makes a lot of references to ‘Nazi-style’ behaviour, but it’s not clear from the evidence whether that’s actually an accurate description. British tabloids do like to link anything even remotely unseemly with Nazism, as the Daily Star did with the Lewis Hamilton racism story. Given the fascist past of Mosley’s family, it’s an obvious connection to make.

But even the the ‘Nazi’ angle is fantasy, the other details (assuming they are true) will be considered by many to be sufficiently unpleasant to make Mosley’s position untenable.

Mosley has said he will not step down. Is this the right course of action for him – and for Formula 1?

Reading Mosley’s statement I am reminded of Eliot Spitzer’s words on March 13th. Spitzer, then the Governor of New York, had been connected to a prostitution ring:

I have acted in a way that violates my obligation to my family and violates my, or any sense, of right or wrong. I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.

Four days later, Spitzer resigned. What will happen to Mosley?

Character assassination

In his statement Mosley suggests he’s been been the victim of character assassination: “a covert investigation of my private life and background has been undertaken by a group specialising in such things, for reasons and clients as yet unknown.”

There will inevitably be speculation about who is responsible. The FIA had brought a legal action against the Sunday Times, sister newspaper to the News of the World. Today another of its sister newspapers, The Times, printed a leader demanding Mosley’s resignation. Other major British newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph have given little coverage to the story with the Telegraph’s F1 correspondent Kevin Garside voicing support of Mosley.

However a controversial figure such as Mosley is never short of critics and enemies, and only last year clashed publicly with McLaren in the ‘spygate’ scandal. Any number of people might bear a grudge against him.

Throwing mud

Whoever is going after Mosley knows this adage well: “If you throw enough mud, some of it will stick.”

Mosley strongly denied the ‘Nazi’ connotations in the News of the World’s reportage. But even ignoring this other highly visible figures have lost their jobs over less serious matters than what Mosley is accused of.

The News of the World is a nasty, grubby newspaper that often makes sensational allegations like this against people in the public eye. Many will ask what relevance its revelations of Max Mosley’s personal life has to his ability to do his job?

Possibly none at all. But that is not the point. Mosley is one of the most high profile representatives of international motor racing and he has brought the sport into disrepute.

Just the beginning?

If someone is working a plan to destroy Mosley, there will likely be more to come. To discredit someone in an era of 24-hour rolling news on television and online, you don’t play all your cards at once. There will be “shocking new pictures” and “tell-all stories” and who knows what else still to come.

Mosley is credited with a terrific legal brain – but the News Corporation lawyers will have trodden this path a few times before. Whatever the outcome, I doubt it will be a quick win, and in the meantime the story will drag on and on. As Bernie Ecclestone said today:

If he starts to sue, from what I understand, the chances of him winning would be slim and, the trouble is, it’s just a lot more ink for the press.

Ecclestone has already said Mosley should not visit Bahrain for this weekend’s Grand Prix.

Should Mosley resign?

At the very least, I think he needs to take temporary leave from his position while he takes care of the matter.

He has said in his statement that he intends to take legal action against the News of the World. He added:

You can, however be certain that I will not allow any of this to impede my commitment to the work of the FIA.

But I think he should devote his time fully to pursuing his course of action against the newspaper. Mosley should stand down, at least temporarily, and allow someone else to devote their entire time to the professional duties of the role of FIA president.

Mosley has said he has, “received a very large number of messages of sympathy and support from those within the FIA and the motor sport and motoring communities generally, suggesting that my private life is not relevant to my work and that I should continue in my role.”

Over the days to come we shall see if that support is strong enough for him to cling to power despite the storm of criticism his decision is likely to bring. But as Kevin Eason pointed out today, the team bosses could not kick him out of the sport even if they wanted to.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “Why Max Mosley should resign”

  1. As much as I dislike Max (the only thing he’s done recently that I agree with is to try to get McLaren thrown out of the sport), I fully support him in his legal action. I truly hope that he manages to get the vile, putrid publication that is The News of the World shut down for good.

  2. richdaddyracing
    1st April 2008, 21:52

    So he did do it! Fantastic! Isn’t life great when even the richest, most privileged, pompous and self-important big shot is revealed to be just another dirty old man? Now we can all laugh the next time he puts on that horrible smirk and expounds some plausible sounding but deeply flawed bit of logic about why someone is lucky they didn’t get a more severe punishment. And he’s still at it! Classic Max to say his wife and kids have been the victim of this terrible attack on his private life, neatly ignoring his own role in their pain. Dear Max, I hope you stay, I really do. Will make F1 so much more fun. Can’t wait till Brundle slips in the odd covert comment on race day. And that’s another thing – is it me or has no-one noticed that ITV lost their coverage right in the middle of this? So here’s the conspiracy theory (all my own work); Like most of us, Brundle is amazed at the Ferrari Internal Affairs stitch up over stepneygate and the subsequent double standards over the Renault affair. Not knowing when to shut up (people from Norfolk never do know when to shut up – I know – i married one) Brundle publishes in Murdoch’s Times. The FIA (ie Max) gets pissed off, thinking that even though the public love him, it’s time Brundle came down a notch or two, so they decide to sue the Times. For good measure, being the arrogant bully he is, Max gets Bernie to accept the following; ITV is going down hill. Ryder is just a renta-gob, everyone knows James Allen is rubbish, and Louise isn’t getting any younger is she? Plus they totally screwed up darling Tamara’s all important media debut, making it look as if she had no talent and was just there ‘cos of the fact that daddy owns the whole shebang. So let’s give it to the BBC then eh? That should shut that mouthy little ex-driver up! This is a step too far, not for Brundle, who is just a fan with a conscience, no, this is where the big guns step in, for who owns a big chunk of ITV? Why that’ll be one Mr Murdock, owner of the Times (and the News of the Screws, as everyone used to call it). Now, Bernie and Max may be rich aggressive overachievers with more money than anyone really needs, but compared to Mr M, they are mere minnows, especially Max. So Mr M gets one of his NOTW henchmen to, shall we say, film one of Max’s pit stops. That would be a fitting way to shut the b***er up. I wonder what they have on Bernie? Would love to know….

  3. I must admit I struggle to find even a minimum of sympathy for Mr. Mosley; given his history of dictatorial behaviour (e.g. pushing through edicts and rule changes at his own pleasure totally in the face of just about all other parties with interests in the sport) combined with (at least in my opinion) an obnoxious habit of claiming the "high" moral ground (Stepney-gate and Barcelona "racism" being a couple of recent examples) he has himself stuck his neck out a touch too far just to prove his points. Combined with the vengeance he himself pursues anybody who dares to challenge his views (e.g. McLaren, Brundle) there are more than enough people and organisations out there "with an axe to grind" to make me surprised he didn’t see this coming.

    It can all sort of be described by one term: karma!

  4. It’s a no brainer. He must step down. Now.

  5. Hoist on his own petard, is the phrase I beleive we are looking for here.

  6. Max, you’ve not been ‘set up’. No one forced you to go and spank those prostitutes, did they? However, anyone want to bet on how long it will be until he blames McLaren and Ron Dennis for the whole thing? On the positive side, the sooner this Ferrari lickspittle goes the better and if we could only catch Bernie at it as well… Sorry, forgot he’s only interested in money.

  7. Although Spitzer’s comments are interesting in relation to Max, the two really can’t be compared. Here in America, prostitution is only legal in the state of Nevada, and even then, not in the whole state (not in Las Vegas, for example). In other words, Spitzer committed crimes–felonies actually, because prostitutes had been sent over state lines. New York has a law that the governor gets kicked out after being convicted of a felony. So, he had no chance of keeping his office.

    Although Max’s situation is more embarrassing, it is less serious. I guess he didn’t commit a crime (hookers are legal in the UK?), and he’s not elected by the public. Really, his problem is that he is tarnishing the global image of his organization. Others criticized the Times article, but it makes a good point–morally conservative countries (like Japan, Germany if you believe the Nazi part, Arab countries) can’t help but look at the FIA and Max in a different light.

  8. Momentum is probably building. The story was being discussed on Pardon the Interruption in the US (sports talk show on ESPN for those who don’t know). It’s the first I would have heard about it if I didn’t read this blog.

  9. @Brendan: "Others criticized the Times article, but it makes a good point–morally conservative countries (like Japan, Germany if you believe the Nazi part…"

    Being a German, I think you have a wrong image of the German general public tolerance and sensitivity regarding so called sex scandals.
    Germans differentiate between private and work life almost as a matter of principle.
    People in the highest positions have to be good at their job only, there are no "higher standards" for them in their spare time.
    Just some examples: Schröder, out last chancellor, was married 4 times, the mayor of Berlin is openly gay and one of the top guys in the conservative party cheated on his wife and even got a baby with the other woman, he is still a minister in today’s German government.

    Now if there will be more evidences about the Nazi aspect of this story, it might raise some eyebrows, but not enough for most people to demand Mosley to resign.

  10. It’s not a legal issue it’s a moral issue. And more importantly a judgment question, as in he’s lost all of his.

    richdaddyracing’s summary of who and why is a brilliant summary of how he wound up on the wrong end of the camera. He finally messed with the wrong guy and company and all his misdirection shouldn’t save him.

    Keith’s point about this being the tip of the iceberg is my fondest hope. If Max elects to fight this I hope more incidents come to light, he gets what he’s been giving the sport all these years: A royal shafting.

  11. William Wilgus
    2nd April 2008, 5:14

    " . . . he has brought the sport into disrepute."  Sorry, but I can’t agree with that:  F-1 is unchanged by what he’s been caught doing.  The real issue is that  now `the Emperor  has no clothes’.  Who wants to follow a person who has so ignobly been dis-robed? Not many.

  12. Papers like the NOTW play a very valuable role in a free democracy. Whether or not you like their style of journalism is another factor.

    UK journalism continues to be among some of the finest in the world and that is somthing, as a country, we should be proud off.

    I don’t imagine this is the first time Max has transgressed. Look out for many more stories … could be fun!

  13. I’m sure sometime not too far in the future Max will hear:

    "Max, it’s not what you’ve done of course. It’s the appearance of what you’ve done. It seems so unjust, but for the good of the party. You understand…"

  14. If Max was your boss what would you think and want him to do?
    If he was your dinner guest where would you seat him?
    If he was your daughter’s friend’s father would you want him to be anywhere near your children?

    This is a case of individual morals.
    There is only one decent thing to do but i guess Max is not decent. 

  15. What really surprises me is that there people out there who support MM on this.  It leaves me wondering – do they do the same and therefore are only empathizing with MM? Nonetheless no one would have expected MM to resign on his first comment on the subject. It is interesting to note that he has basically admitted to the act – as to whether is was Nazist or not, that will be left to the interpretation of the court, an intuition that MM has been fond of imitating even if in the worst possible ways.

    As mentioned earlier, MM has good lawyers but so does NOTW – and most likely NOTW lawyers are better at this sort of thing than his version – which gives credence to Bernie’s advice to his friend to forget the litigation option – one wonders why MM is ready to risk so much battling it out in the courts for a figure head position that pays him nothing.

  16. At first i didn’t jumped the bandwagon for Mosley head, because, as many have said, private life is private life and job is job and they are two separate and distinct things. Besides, he is not the only guy that makes use of hookers. A few hundreds of million in the world do that also. The most disturbing part is the Nazi connotations. It is true that Mosley has said that F1 could not be rulled by plain democracy, and that the best thing was a dictatorial behaviour (I am not quoting, but just writing my interpretation). But not every dictator is a fascist and even then, the Nazi allegations are clearly pushed. That, for me, is the part thats worth investigate.

    For me, it is his letter that makes me demand his head. First, he didn’t denies the whole thing and only the Nazi part is clearly denied. But he didn’t explicitly admit the hookers also. Second, what was he especting? He is a public figure and even a political one, who’s life is constantly on camera spots. If he do something in his life, he should expected that somehow it turns public sooner or later. We live in times that private life is not so private anymore (Not that this is good). Third, and more importantly, his family are the ones in pain and the innocents. If he really cares about them it is normal that he should focus mainly on defending himself and on repairing the problems he should now have at home. And what does he do in place of temporarily stepping down? Reafirms commitment to F1, which might be noble at first, but everybody knows that his role takes a lot of his time, so it shows that he is more interested in doing everything he can to keep the power at FIA than to look after what really matters now. Besides, it looks like he is doing it, not for F1, but for later, be able to take revenge on others…

  17. Mosley’s integrity has been compromised. If you can’t keep your private life private then you shouldn’t be running worldwide motorsport. If there is any truth in these allegations then he should resign.

  18. @Dale

    Surprising though it may seem. It isn’t illegal to pay for sex in the UK.

    As I understand it – it is illegal to profit from a prostitute (so brothels are out, and most prostitutes dependants – children and so on are illegally receiving funds).

    It is illegal to promote prostitution hence all of the "Escort" type language that’s used.

    It is illegal to loiter and curb crawl in many places but this isn’t a national law.

    Often the prostitute can be prosecuted but it’s very rare to be able to prosecute the client as often the client has committed no crime.

    It is entirely probable that nobody committed a crime in this situation except possibly the News of the World depending on how they obtained the evidence.

  19. So, what is this controversy going to be called?? We’ve already had F1gate, so what about PervynaziF1gate…?

  20. Looks like Max just can’t let go, or maybe doesn’t want to let go by himself. In the latter case his contract could be of interest, maybe he gets a nice compensation package if he is let go. In that case he is just using the old football manager’s trick by saying he wants to continue while his position is untenable in order to collect his money when he is being kicked out…

  21. So Max basically admitted paying for hookers as he didn’t deny that in his letter. He denyed the ‘Nazi’ angle, (despite the speaking in German, Hooker wearing a WWII uniform jacket etc…) and best of all he’s a ‘victim’ of ‘someone who is out to get him and his source ‘close to the British security services’ has confirmed this.

    This is laughable – was his source stood outside a police station when they talked to Max? Or are they ‘closer’ than that? Clearly they didn’t tip him off in advance. I don’t believe all the conspiracy crap he’s pulling here – as someone has said let’s see him turn this on Ron Dennis.

    The fact is he’s a public figure and someone blabbed about his fondness for alternative recreational activites. He’s a rich man and the hookers are not, my bet is that if soemone set him up it’s the hookers he was paying for sex rather then anyone else and the NOTW is there to expose his embarrasing habits because he’s a public figure with integrity to lose.

    The longer he hangs on the more crap will come out into the public domain. If the paper have their act together (and they are the experts in this) we can look forward to the ‘expose’ about the apartment this occured in, (most likely done in advance ;-) and the relevation form on of the hookers about Max’s private life.

    Oh and if Max’s lawyers get an injunction preventing the NOTW printing they’ll shop it to another paper.

    Best thing to do is resign and drop out of the public eye as quickly as possible as let’s face it his credibility has gone and his ability to run the FIA is shot as people will always be laughing at him behind his back.

    I can’t wait for the banners at the Brit GP, maybe ITV will change their theme music to "Whip it".

  22. One of the big ironies of this world then – are we going to see Colonel Gaddafi "voluntarily" stand down before Max Mosely does? 

    Sure it’s not on the same scale but if a dictator with Gaddafi’s history knows when to call it a day, you have to wonder which planet Max’s living on…

  23. Apparently Max’s defence for speaking German was two of the girls were German. How that explains the speaking with a German accent I don’t know…

    The law may have been broken – in the UK you cannot consent to bodily injury. So depending on the level of injury/bruising caused, the participants in the video could be charged with ABH. It’s happened before.

  24. Very useful knowledge Don, thank you.

  25. How stupid does Max think we are?

    "Oh, well, Hitler was guest of honor at my parents’ wedding, I marched in fascist demonstrations and was arrested a couple of times, but that was all in the past. I’m not a Nazi any more, and speaking German while beating hookers dressed as prisoners doesn’t mean I’m still a Nazi. What ever gave you that crazy idea?"

  26. @Don – I think you must be able to consent to bodily injury in the UK, otherwise all boxing matches would be unlawful.  But I do wonder how NOTW got not only the footage, but also knowledge of Max’s pastime.  Maybe one of the hookers was a McLaren fan and was happy to spill the beans??  If a hooker was fully involved in obtaining the video, I wonder what else she knows – and might tell?  Somehow I doubt that this was Max’s first event.

  27. Michael Counsell
    2nd April 2008, 19:46

    The key thing is News Corporation  should not be trying to discredit someone by exposing their private life…

    On the positive side the S&M sector of the economy is bound to benefit from the extra coverage…

    Another thing is maybe his wife knew about his fetishes and was happy for him to pursue them.  No one actually knows this.

    As the saying goes make love not war.

  28. I think we are all missing the point here, he’s pushing tin (hitting 70 years old) and he had sex with 5 ladies. GO HIM.

    Not only that, but he looks like Hugh Heffner, same story different man…… OR IS HE? DU DU DUN!!!

  29. @ Dale, nice bullet points
    regarding number three, paying for sex

    thats not illegal, soliciting is a crime though, which includes sex.

  30. Dubai (comment 30) thanks for that article – it’s the kind of thing we’re going to see a lot of I fear.

  31. Joe, to consent to potential ABH (or, to put it in legalese, waive personal injury liability), there have to be written forms signed, in the correct form of legalese. It wouldn’t surprise me if no such form was signed (given that you can’t live off immoral earnings and the implausibility of anyone doing the health-and-safety assessment that legally must be done before issuing such a form), thereby opening up a possible avenue of prosecuting the prostitutes involved.

  32. While I’ve experienced my own personal ill-advised snickers at Mosley’s expense over recent days, right along with my absolute outrage that something like Nazi-esque ANYthing is still considered even remotely acceptable in this world … it boggles my mind that some people (even here, obviously) actually do believe that his actions "behind closed doors" don’t have any effect at all upon his ability to run F1, let alone deal with the international parties involved in order to do it effectively.

    It has nothing to do with "sex" … it has to do with a paradigm that has NO place in this world, especially while simultaneously DOING BUSINESS with parts of the world which have either similar and/or equally repugnant views of the world as the Nazis did/do.

  33. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article3671084.ece

    Max, you are no longer able to do your job!!!
    Is it possible to spell it out any clearer than that???

  34. The first scene of the film is Max  arriving. What really bothers  in that scene is that they knew he was coming. For this, It seems that it is not the first time he went there, and  also for the rapidity with he opens the door handle of the gate and goes down the stairs quickly. He knews the place. Wy he didn`t used a hat dark eyeglasses or something more to be discreter? Only Freud  explains that.

  35. I would have thought anyone investigating his private life would have no difficulty following him and finding out his habits.  Five young women in a £2million flat is bound to raise the curiosity of anyone following him.  I don’t imagine that it would be difficult for the NOTW to speak to any of the people involved and tell them what they planned and offer them some money for access to hide cameras and to get them to point Max in the right direction.  They would probably be amenable to being paid for access because either Max was a first time customer (unlikely) so they were no risking anything financially or he was a regular customer and they knew that they would be losing his business but would get a free advert along with the fee.

    Clearly he has to go.  He is an embarrassment to the FIA and to the sport.  I expect he will go before Barcelona.  To me just now he looks like Margaret Thatcher after her first leadership vote where she thought she had enough support to carry on but after consulting a few close associates discovered that she had no support whatever and people had not wanted to put the boot in in the first ballot.

  36. The best is yet to come: The crown prince of Bahrain has written the old boy and basically told him he is personna non grata. If every country (your next King Juan Carlos) follows suit he will have no choice but to call it quits.

    Put a fork in him, he’s done!

  37. The letter from the Crown Prince of Bahrain:Dear Max, I was sorry to learn of the media stories which emerged on Sunday in the UK. In light of the allegations, I suspect you may be deliberating on your planned attendance at the Grand Prix here in Bahrain later in the week. I therefore felt it important to convey the position of Bahrain and its people. Clearly of paramount importance is the success of the event for all concerned – the Kingdom of Bahrain, Formula 1 and spectators. The focus quite rightly should be on the race. function pictureGalleryPopup(pubUrl,articleId) { var newWin = window.open(pubUrl+’template/2.0-0/element/pictureGalleryPopup.jsp?id=’+articleId+’&&offset=0&&sectionName=Formula1′,’mywindow’,’menubar=0,resizable=0,width=615,height=655′); } With great regret I feel that under the current circumstances, it would be inappropriate for you to be in Bahrain at this time. I don’t want to add to the difficulties in which you find yourself, but I hope you understand the position we have taken. Yours sincerely, Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa
    Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain

  38. what happened to innocent untilproven guilty.
    Max has a lot of enemies and a lot of haters least of which are Sir Jackie and Ron. let alone half the british population as they accuse him of demoting Hamilton’s championship chances last year.

    However i am not convinced this has anything to do with a sex scandla rubbing off negatively on formula one… I think if Max’s fanatasy was to dress like a soldier and pretend to F arabs, no one would have commented.
    This campaign is a racist campaign against Max fuelled by his enemies in the paddock.

    Max did more harm to the sports through his new rules than he could ever do with this sex scandal, if there ever is one.

  39. in the words of murray, max go  go  go.
    not a word from ferari yet.maybe a lot of shredding going on.

  40. Dani, how can one govern without the trust of the people he governs?  They don’t trust him anymore because of his actions and how insensitive he was by acting the way he did.

    So how does one get around that?

  41. @ Vertigo: "Mosley’s integrity" = an oymoron, surely..?

  42. @ Joe Bloggs"@Don – I think you must be able to consent to bodily injury in the UK, otherwise all boxing matches would be unlawful.  "
    You can only consent to assault if it’s in the public interest, therefore lawful sports are fine.  S&M is ok if between a married heterosexual couple.  You can be prosecuted if you’re not married and/or gay- no cases yet on homosexual married couples, so the law isn’t sure on that bit.

  43. Well, actually, in the UK, S&M is unlawful. You cannot consent to be harmed, except in sports and similar activities. The ruling by Lord Justice Templeton in the famous Operation Spanner is clear:

    "I am not prepared to invent a defence of consent for sadomasochistic encounters which breed and glorify cruelty […]. Society is entitled and bound to protect itself against a cult of violence. Pleasure derived from the infliction of pain is an evil thing. Cruelty is uncivilized.
    (R v Brown (1993) 2 All ER 75)"

    There is not a mention of married couples in the sentece, that I know, but I’m not a lawyer. Anyway, you can read about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Spanner
    So, what Max did is illegal in UK and any of the hookers can sue him. I think that’s an untenable position, no matter what Mr. Mosley (who seems to be a poor lawyer, btw) says.

    Actually, even filming S&M is illegal in England: in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill of 2007, the UK government used the Spanner case as justification for:

    "..criminalising images of consensual acts, as part of its proposed criminalisation of possession of "extreme pornography".
    (Brown [1994] 1 AC 212)"

    So event NOTW can be prosecuted. I don’t think it’s politically feasible, but, hey, "dura lex, sed lex" (the law is hard but it is the law).

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