Mosley v. the United Kingdom

European Court of Human Rights
10 May 2011


The applicant, Mr. Mosley, was a former president of Formula One. A national weekly newspaper published an article including intimate photographs taken from a secretly recorded video footage in which the applicant was visible taking part in sexual activities with Nazi motives. Parts of the video footage were published in the newspaper’s webpage. The applicant sued the newspaper for the breach of his privacy, and the court found that the published articles and images had breached the applicant’s right to privacy as this information had no Nazi connotations and therefore its publication could not be justified by public interest. Accordingly, the newspaper was ordered to pay damages to the applicant. 


The applicant complained that the state had violated his right to privacy, as there was no legal requirement for the newspaper to give advance notice of a publication in order to allow a person to seek an interim injunction and thus prevent publication of pictures.

Court's ruling

The Court concluded that the right to private life [protected by Article 8] does not require a legally binding pre-notification requirement of a publication. Thus no violation of the applicant’s right to private life was found.

While balancing the newspaper’s freedom of expression against the applicant’s right to private life, the Court found that:

  • The published photographs and video footage had a far greater impact on the applicant’s privacy than the articles, as the images and footage were still available on the Internet.
  • However, there were other measures in place to ensure an effective protection of person’s right to private life in the UK in a situation when photographs of a person had been published.
  • An obligation to give a prior notification of a publication might cause a “chilling effect” on journalists and even might serve as a form of censorship.
  • Moreover, there were significant doubts as to the effectiveness of such pre-notification requirement. 

Learn more

Last updated 12/06/2024