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William Kimberley: The Max Factor

1 March 2018
As you will see, I have interviewed Max Mosley, the former FIA president, in the latest issue of RACE TECH.

He talks to me about the current state of affairs in Formula 1, bringing in anecdotes from the time he was running the show. He also told me about the work he is currently doing, something he started when president, about trying to improve road safety and stop the annual massacre that occurs around the world due to road accidents.

I met him in London after he had just returned from India where he had been for three days attending the Delhi motor show and also talking to senior civil servants about road safety. As he told me, a total of 140,000 people are killed on the roads there every year. Putting it another way, in the three days that he was there statistically more than a 1,000 people died on the roads.

“If there were a succession of terrorist incidents in India resulting in 1,000 deaths and God knows how many injuries, the whole world would be in uproar,” he said. “So I continue in this work not for fun but a sense of duty. People criticise Jean Todt (the current FIA president) but he fully understands the responsibility of being FIA president.”

“I remember telling him when he took over that 3,000 people a day die in road accidents and if he saved one per cent, that’s 30 people a day. To me if someone puts you in a position like that, then it becomes a duty.”

That’s the work that Mosley is doing today. It is something he is absolutely passionate about. Then we have the Daily Mail story that broke yesterday about a by-election campaign leaflet published in 1961 supporting a candidate for his father Sir Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement that linked immigrants with sexually transmitted disease, tuberculosis and leprosy. It includes the warning: “Protect your health. There is no medical check on immigration. Tuberculosis, VD and other terrible diseases like leprosy are on the increase. Coloured immigration threatens your children’s health.”

The paper claims its discovery raises questions about evidence that Mosley gave under oath in a high court trial when he successfully sued the News of the World in 2008.

On a Channel 4 interview, when he was continually pressed to apologise to West Indians, he refused, saying that he could not be sure the leaflet was genuine anyway, telling the interviewer that he had “no reason to apologise to anyone”. He added: “This was a statement in a leaflet which I am not even sure is genuine, which would never reflect my view. It would not reflect my view then or now because I simply wouldn’t dream of insulting people.”

He went on: “If that leaflet is genuine, I am responsible for it and it shouldn’t have been issued. I have never been a racist, I am not a racist, never will be a racist.”

To put this into context, Mosley is campaigning for tighter press regulation since the now defunct Sunday tabloid wrongly reported that the party was “Nazi-themed”, and he has donated funds to regulator Impress.

According to Press Gazette, he has recently threatened legal action against The Times, The Sun, The Mirror and The Daily Mail under the Data Protection Act claiming use of his “sensitive personal data” in articles published by the titles is a breach of principles enshrined in the act. In other words, he has made powerful enemies for himself, so they dig for dirt.

I am not in a position to judge whether the by-election leaflet is a true document or a forgery, but even if it is the former, while Mosley is clearly wrong to have published it, it was 57 years ago and his actions since that time do not hint in the slightest of him being a racist. In fact, the reverse is true.

I do not pretend to know him well, but the person I have interviewed on more than one occasion comes across as a principled man who is still driven to do good for the world, as proven by his work in road safety. He should not be judged by what he did in his private life which harmed no-one, and I for one hope that the current storm encircling him does not deter him from carrying on his vital work in improving road safety. If it does, then it will be a loss for us all.

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