Max Mosley sues Google over 'Nazi orgy' search results

Former Formula One chief Max Mosley has sued Google in France and Germany in an attempt to have the company censor search results relating to a Nazi-themed orgy allegedly held by Mosley.Mosley revealed the legal action on Thursday as part of testimony he was giving to the Leveson inquiry, which is looking into the roles of press and police in the News International hacking scandal.

Former Formula One chief Max Mosley has sued Google in France and Germany in an attempt to have the company censor search results relating to a Nazi-themed orgy allegedly held by Mosley.

Mosley revealed the legal action on Thursday as part of testimony he was giving to the Leveson inquiry, which is looking into the roles of press and police in the News International hacking scandal.

"We have brought proceedings against [Google] in France and Germany where the jurisprudence is favourable," Mosley told Leveson, adding that he and his lawyers were considering suing Google in California too.

The now-defunct News of the World (NotW) published an article in 2008, with associated video footage, regarding an encounter between Mosley and several sex workers. The paper suggested the encounter was Nazi-themed, and Mosley denied this.

Mosley went on to win a case against the News of the World on privacy grounds. However, he told the inquiry, footage and still images from the video continue to flood the internet, further damaging his reputation.

According to Mosley, his lawyers have successfully seen the material taken down from hundreds of sites in 22 or 23 countries. "I'm trying to do everything I can to get this material removed from the web. It's not easy, it's ongoing, it's very expensive," Mosley said.

However, Mosley said he had been having particular trouble in his dealings with Google, which he said was key to stopping people viewing the offending material.

"If somebody were to stop the search engines producing the material, the actual sites don't really matter, because without a search engine nobody's going to find it," he said.

In written testimony (PDF), Mosley said that "for reasons best known to itself the NotW had not applied copyright protection software to the images and video on the NotW article".

"This meant that anyone was able to copy the images and video footage to their own websites/articles with little problem," he said. "As a result, the images spread like wildfire all over the internet as the NotW must have known they would."

Mosley said he had spent more than £500k so far on his quest to remove the libellous references from the internet. "Despite this ongoing investment, I have to live with the knowledge that it will probably never be fully removed," he admitted.

"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," Mosley added, explaining that he was trying to get Google to proactively monitor its search results for further examples of such references.

"The fundamental thing is that Google could stop this appearing but they don't or won't as a matter of principle," Mosley said.

Google said it would only censor search results under court order.

"Google's search results reflect the information available on billions of web pages on the internet," the company said in a statement. "We don't, and can't, control what others post online, but when we're told that a specific page is illegal under a court order, then we move quickly to remove it from our search results."

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