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OFF BEAT: Ex-Formula One president wants Google to remove search results about tryst


Former Formula One President Max Mosley is hoping legal action will force Google to block search results linking him to an alleged Nazi-themed tryst with several women in 2008, according to a report by the Guardian newspaper.

Testifying before the Leveson Inquiry on privacy and media ethics at London’s royal courts of justice on Thursday, Nov. 24, Mr. Mosley said he plans to sue the Internet search giant in an effort to expunge the Web of false and libelous references to a 2008 sexual encounter he had with five unnamed women, the report said.

Details of the affair, which Mr. Mosley claims was falsely characterized as a “Nazi-themed orgy” by the now-defunct News of the World newspaper, still haunt him more than three years after they were first made public, according to Mr. Mosley’s written testimony.

Mr. Mosley did not deny the underlying fact of the affair—he characterized the women involved as friends of his—but refuted the allegations that the women were paid prostitutes or that the encounter had been in any way “Nazi-themed.”

Mr. Mosley said his attorneys already have compelled more than 250 websites in the U.K. to remove images, video and text containing false information, and have targeted several hundred more sites across Europe.

“This exercise was made all the more difficult by the intransigent position taken by Google Inc. as to their ability to remove images and video from their search results,” Mr. Mosley wrote in his testimony, noting that he has spent an estimated $774,000 “dealing with the consequences” of the affair’s publicity.

“Despite this ongoing investment, I have to live with the knowledge that it will probably never be fully removed,” Mr. Mosley said. “Anywhere in the world when I meet someone for the first time, I do so in the knowledge that they will almost certainly have put my name in a search engine and seen the material.”

In July 2008, a British court declared the News of the World article to be a violation of Mr. Mosley’s privacy, and awarded him $77,000 in damages. According to the Guardian, Google already has removed “hundreds” of references to the affair, but can only respond to complaints about specific sites as opposed to casting a broad filter over all linked content.