LONDON - Motor racing boss Max Mosley won an invasion of privacy suit Thursday against a tabloid newspaper that claimed he took part in a Nazi-themed orgy.
High Court judge David Eady ruled the News of the World must pay Mosley $120,000 in damages, plus legal costs of an estimated $1.7 million, for the story claiming Mosley participated in a sadomasochistic sex romp with a Third Reich theme.
The 68-year-old Mosley has acknowledged he participated in an encounter with sex workers in a basement apartment in London, but says it was private and that there were no Nazi overtones.
Mosley said the ruling exposed "the Nazi lie upon which the News of the World sought to justify their disgraceful intrusion into my private life.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Modesto Bee
"I hope my case will help deter newspapers in the U.K. from pursuing this type of invasive and salacious journalism," he added.
The payout is large for a British privacy lawsuit, where damage awards are usually modest. But the judge did not award the punitive and exemplary damages Mosley had sought to deter other newspapers from running similar stories.
News of the World editor Colin Myler said the ruling makes the British press less free.
"It is not for the rich and the famous, the powerful and the influential, to dictate the news agenda, just because they have the money and the means to gag a free press," Myler said. "That is why the News of the World will remain committed to fighting for its readers' right to know."
The judge ruled that Mosley "had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to sexual activities (albeit unconventional) carried on between consenting adults on private property."
During a weeklong hearing this month, the court heard evidence from Mosley and four of the women he met for S&M sessions at an apartment he rented for the purpose in London's affluent Chelsea neighborhood.
During the hearing, the court was played covertly recorded videos that showed Mosley being bound and whipped, then relaxing naked with a cup of tea. Some of the participants wore striped prison-style uniforms and one of the dominatrices wore a German Luftwaffe jacket.
Mosley told the court he had an interest in sadomasochism going back 45 years, but said he found the idea of Nazi sex fantasies abhorrent. He said he and the women acted out a German prison scenario, with no Nazi overtones.
The issue is especially sensitive because he is the son of the late Oswald Mosley, Britain's best-known fascist politician in the 1930s and a friend of Adolf Hitler.
After the News of the World story broke in March, Mosley faced calls to quit as president of the International Automobile Federation, which oversees Formula One racing. Despite the pressure, he won a confidence vote last month allowing him to stay until his fourth term ends in October 2009.