The reporter who broke the story of motorsport boss Max Mosley’s sadomasochistic “orgy” with five women told the High Court today that it had an “absolutely overwhelming Nazi” theme.
The News of the World’s Neville Thurlbeck said he was “completely surprised” by the level of the Nazism, which appeared in the footage secretly filmed at a Chelsea flat in March by one of the dominatrices – woman E.
“I didn’t quite expect the degree of Nazi-style humiliation that we saw.
“I kind of suspected it might be just some sort of watered down comedy version of Allo Allo. But, when we looked at the video it became clear very quickly that there was a very cynical Nazi theme running throughout. It was just clear to us all.”
Thurlbeck denied that when he showed E how to operate the clandestine camera, he suggested that she might want to get Mosley to do the Sieg Heil.
He said: “I realised that if there was going to be a Nazi theme and if Mr Mosley was to give the Sieg Heil then that was a very crucial image for us to capture, a very powerful and emotive image.
“I saw it as my job to make sure that if Mr Mosley did give the Fascist salute that our girl had sufficient instruction and we had a camera able enough to capture that image.”
Mosley’s QC, James Price, suggested that what he wanted from E was clear film of Mosley doing something “unmistakably Nazi”.
Thurlbeck replied: “No, is the answer to that question. I wanted her to capture the Sieg Heil if he gave it.”
The QC asked: “Why should he do it?”
Thurlbeck countered: “Why should he order German dominatrices to beat him with sticks?”
What happened in the flat, including beatings counted out in German, “wasn’t Hansel and Gretel”.
He said: “I would say the whole video is unmistakably Nazi.”
Price said that E had not done anything “unmistakably Nazi” and that it would have been “terribly easy” for her to have said something like “Ve are ze SS officers and you are ze Jews” during the scenario.
Thurlbeck said: “There was an overwhelming, absolutely overwhelming Nazi theme.”
The newspaper’s editor, Colin Myler, has told Mr Justice Eady, who is hearing the hotly contested landmark breach of privacy action in London, he believed the story was one of “legitimate public interest and one that I believe was legitimately published”.
It was “absolutely not true” that the paper fabricated the Nazi aspect of the story.
Mosley, the 68-year-old son of the 1930s Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, says his life was devastated by the expose of what the newspaper called a “sick Nazi orgy with five hookers”, and is asking for an unprecedented award of punitive exemplary damages.
Price has said that the “gross and indefensible intrusion” was made substantially worse by the entirely false suggestion that Mosley, president of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) was playing a concentration camp commandant and a cowering death camp inmate.
Responding to Price’s suggestion that it was an English prison scenario, Thurlbeck replied: “I know of no English prison that beats its inmates with a stick until their buttocks bleed.
“I know of no English prison where the warder will deliver those blows and count them out in German.
“I know of no English prison where the inmates then have sexual intercourse with the warder who has just given those blows.”
He said: “I think they find the whole German/Nazi thing a big turn-on. That’s why it was all characterised and staged that way.”
Thurlbeck added that the standard of proof for getting a story into the paper was “very, very high indeed”.
Earlier, Myler agreed that the newspaper was accusing Mosley of instigating a crime – an assault – upon himself.
He said: “You say it was S and M but blood was drawn. I know it was drawn because he had a plaster on his bottom. I think it was after he’d had 15 beatings of the cane.”
He added: “The News of the World did not take Mr Mosley kicking and screaming to that apartment, that flat in Chelsea.
“The News of the World did not engage five girls for five hours of what went on – which was brutal.”
He said that publication was probably justified on the S and M basis alone.
Price suggested to him: “From the moment the film arrived in the News of the World offices and the moment somebody saw that there were pictures of sex and S and M, those pictures were going to be published willy nilly.”
After that allegation was denied, Price then suggested: “And the justification was just a fig leaf.”
Myler replied: “In this day and age, Mr Price, no editor could justify behaving in that way.”
The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow when woman E is expected to give evidence.