Former F1 chief and privacy campaigner Max Mosley dies aged 81

24 May 2021, 14:59 | Updated: 24 May 2021, 19:17

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Ex-Formula One chief and privacy campaigner Max Mosley has died aged 81, former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has announced.

The former racing driver chief was president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and was one of the sport’s most notable individuals.

Mosley, whose father Oswald was the figurehead of the British fascist movement, was a barrister and amateur racing driver.

Ecclestone said: "Max was like family to me. We were like brothers. I am pleased in a way because he suffered for too long."

He later put millions into calls for stricter press controls after the News of the World filmed him at an orgy with five sex workers.

A five-hour recording of the incident showed the millionaire surrounded by escorts in military gear performing sadistic sexual acts.

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However, a judge ruled in favour of the motorsport tycoon that there was no Nazi element to the orgy, as the newspaper had previously claimed. The judge also found the story was not in the public interest.

Mosley has previously said that the behaviour of the press contributed to the death of his son, Alexander, who died from drug abuse aged 39.

Formula One executive Mark Gallagher wrote on Twitter: "So few realise the very good work that Max Mosley did as regards safety in racing & its transfer into road cars. The pioneering work which he drove at the FIA post Imola ‘94 helped make safety a key marketing tool for car co’s. A fascinating man, with quite the life story.

Ex-F1 chief Max Mosley has died aged 81
Ex-F1 chief Max Mosley has died aged 81. Picture: PA

"It was typical of him not to be cowed by the salacious headlines created by the News of The World (followed by a media ‘pile on’) about his private life. Instead he took the fight to them and won. His long time friend Bernie Ecclestone failed to support him initially, something Bernie came to regret.

"I also loved the story that when told Max had been filmed at an orgy for 6 hours, Bernie was mainly impressed with high levels of stamina. Sorry to see Max leave the stage. Looking forward to seeing the forthcoming film."

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Mosley speaking to journalists as FIA president in 2009
Mosley speaking to journalists as FIA president in 2009. Picture: Getty

The motorsport tycoon became FIA president in 1993 after serving in previous administrative roles in motorsport, including within Formula One. He served three terms as president before standing down in 2009.

Mosley was chairman of the Towards Zero Foundation, the UK charity that promotes the ‘Vision Zero’ approach to road safety internationally.

He was also chairman of Global NCAP, the umbrella organisation for all crash testing programmes globally.

In 2006, he was awarded the National de la Légion d'Honneur in recognition of his contribution to road safety and motorsport.

Mosley was born in London on 13 April 1940 to Sir Oswald Mosley and Lady Diana Mosley, the third of the Mitford sisters.

He attended school in France, Germany and Britain before studying physics at the University of Oxford and then changing to law.

The tycoon was briefly involved in his father's far-right Union Movement.

After two years as a barrister, he began a career in motor racing, but he left the FIA after the video of him attending an orgy was sold to the now defunct News of the World.

Having successfully sued the paper, he campaigned for tighter press regulation and donated millions to Impress, the press regulator set up after the Leveson Inquiry.

He leaves behind his wife Jean Mosley after more than 60 years of marriage, and his son Patrick.

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