News Corp. Must Pay $44,000 for Mosley Sex Story in France

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp. was ordered to pay as much as 32,000 euros ($44,000) in fines and fees by a Paris court over a March 2008 report claiming Max Mosley took part in a Nazi-themed sex party.

News Corp. was wrong to publish in France images from a video taken by another party guest that violated Mosley’s privacy, a Paris court ruled today in the first of 21 cases he’s brought outside the U.K., where the incident occurred.

The former Formula One president won a record 60,000-pound ($96,400) breach-of-privacy award from Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid in 2008 for publishing the story on a Nazi-themed “orgy,” along with a video without contacting him. The News of the World was shuttered in July after allegations phone hacking there was widespread.

The criminal court verdict “shows News Group was involved in criminality,” Mosley said today in a telephone interview. “I think there were 1,300 copies of the newspaper sold in France -- so that works out at 5 euros a copy. If it was in England it would have been 12 or 13 million euros. I could have retired on that.”

Jean-Frederic Gaultier, a lawyer for News Corp. in Paris, declined to comment on the decision. Calls to News Corp. for comment weren’t immediately returned.

The Paris award included a 10,000-euro fine, 7,000 euros in damages and 15,000 euros in legal fees. Mosley, who stepped down as head of F-1 racing’s ruling body in 2009, said today the other 20 cases should be heard over the next three years.

U.K. Ruling

The High Court in London also concluded in a 2008 ruling that there was no evidence any Nazi theme was intended. Mosley denied the party was Nazi-themed. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in May that Mosley’s case didn’t warrant any new media restrictions and deemed the London award “an adequate remedy.”

The News of the World maintained a reputation for sensational stories since its founding in 1843. In the years after World War II the newspaper, bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in 1969, sold about 8 million copies a week. It had Britain’s largest Sunday circulation until it was closed, with sales of 2.7 million in May.

The scoops that made the tabloid so popular also led to its downfall. The phone-hacking scandal started in 2007 when the News of the World’s former royal reporter and a private investigator, were jailed for illegally accessing voice mails to get stories.

“The court was shocked by the violence” of the invasion of his privacy, Mosley’s lawyer Philippe Ouakrat said outside the Paris courtroom. “Clearly it is, once again, the methods of News of the World and the Murdoch press that are criticized” in this case.

Neville Thurlbeck, the tabloid’s former chief reporter who wrote the Mosley story, was cleared by the Paris court. He was arrested in April in a probe of phone hacking at the paper and has filed a wrongful termination suit against a News Corp. unit over his dismissal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at hsmith26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net