Former F1 boss Max Mosley dies, aged 81

·3-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Former F1 boss and anti-press campaigner Max Mosley has died, aged 81.

Mosley was President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and one of F1’s most influential figures, but later in life threw his weight behind calls for stricter Press controls.

Bernie Ecclestone, who was also head of F1, confirmed the 81-year-old’s death on Monday afternoon.

He said: “It’s like losing family, like losing a brother, Max and I. He did, a lot of good things not just for motorsport, also the (car) industry he was very good in making sure people built cars that were safe.”

Mr Ecclestone added: “I am pleased in a way because he suffered for too long.”

Mosley’s father, Sir Oswald was a fascist leader and Hitler sympathiser. Hitler even attended the secret wedding of Max Mosley’s parents that was hosted in the home of Joseph Goebbels.

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone (L) and FIA President Max Mosley address the media in 2002AFP via Getty Images
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone (L) and FIA President Max Mosley address the media in 2002AFP via Getty Images

Mr Mosley was the subject of a front-page article in the now-defunct News of The World in March 2008, under the headline “Formula 1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers”. He was awarded a record £60,000 in privacy damages over the story.

Max Mosley famously took the News of the World to court for its “sick Nazi orgy” story about him because he was so keen to “demonstrate they were liars”, he said at the time.

The ex-Formula One chief told the Leveson inquiry he had been advised that if he lost his High Court case, it could cost him £1 million or more and that even if he won, it would still cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Racing driver Max Mosley tests out a sportscar in 1968.Getty Images
Racing driver Max Mosley tests out a sportscar in 1968.Getty Images

He was also reminded that “taking the matter to court, the entire private information would be rehearsed again”, he said. But, he went on: “I thought what they have done is so outrageous I wanted to get these people into the witness box and demonstrate they were liars. And the only way to do this was to put up with this extremely unpleasant process.”

The judge ruled in favour of Mosley there was no Nazi element to the orgy, as the newspaper had claimed, and that the story was not in the public interest.

He decided that although the young women “victims” wore striped pyjamas they were not necessarily Nazi-related clothes in a verdict that changed the legal landscape.

A year after the News of the World story, Max Mosley’s eldest son Alexander died at the age of 39 from a cocaine overdose.

In the past Mosley had said that the press furore and its knock-on effects contributed to his son’s downward spiral, and at the Leveson Inquiry spoke of the “mob” of photographers who were waiting at the Notting Hill flat when he later went to pick up Alexander’s belongings.

He had said: “I don’t think you ever come to terms with [the death of a child]. It’s so sad, such a waste. He was very clever and good-looking and very comfortably off. Life could have been wonderful had he not had that problem.”

Max Mosley served as president of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body of F1, from 1993 to 2009.

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