In a compelling interview on Channel 4 News on Tuesday night, a blustering Max Mosley admitted the bombshell election pamphlet uncovered by the Mail was racist.
He told host Cathy Newman: ‘Yeah … I think that probably is racist, I’ll concede that.’ An unflappable Miss Newman, one of TV’s most respected interviewers, had put a series of incisive questions to the tycoon.
Yet he protested it was ‘nonsense’ to say he should apologise and ‘stupid and offensive’ to suggest he hadn’t told the truth in his 2008 High Court case. At one point he even suggested the leaflet was a hoax, then conceded it might be genuine but denied it was racist, and finally admitted it was racist.
The Mail shared its Mosley dossier with Channel 4 News and reporter Michael Crick who retraced our steps to find the original leaflet in a Salford archive.
Last night one watching BBC journalist described Miss Newman’s forensic examination of Mr Mosley as ‘a contender for interview of the year’. Below is an abridged version of the dramatic confrontation.
In a compelling interview on Channel 4 News last night, a blustering Max Mosley admitted the bombshell election pamphlet uncovered by the Mail was racist
Cathy Newman: Mr Mosley you said in the News of the World trial in 2008 that the claim that leaflets were put out alleging immigrants brought disease to the UK was absolute nonsense. Did you get it wrong or did you lie under oath?
Max Mosley: I wouldn’t dream of lying under oath – that’s a very offensive suggestion which you shouldn’t make. Absolutely shouldn’t make. The truth is that I was asked about that leaflet and I said to the barrister if that leaflet existed, if you had it you’d produce it. And of course they should have produced it if it existed. I never … no, no listen to the answer.
CN: Well, you actually said you didn’t recall it.
MM: I’ve never seen that leaflet, the original, and I’d like to see it. That’s a photocopy, I’d like to see the original.
CN: This is a photocopy of the original, which you saw in Michael Crick’s report. I’m happy for you to have a look at that just to look through it but I’m also happy to quote from it. Walter Hesketh’s by-election leaflet says coloured immigration threatens your children’s health.
MM: We’ve already had that …
CN: All those terrible suggestions. Well why did you publish it? Your name is on …
MM: They asked me in the trial, no they asked me in the trial whether that leaflet existed and I said it was absolutely true, that it was complete nonsense and that was my recollection, it still is my recollection. I’m not even sure if it’s genuine, but if it is genuine it doesn’t reflect my views today and this entirely red herring put out by the Daily Mail and I’m astonished, I am astonished.
He told host Cathy Newman: ‘Yeah … I think that probably is racist, I’ll concede that.’
CN: So you think this might be a hoax, this leaflet here that I’m trying to get you to have a look at?
MM: I’ve never seen the original. We would have to, my lawyers have actually asked the Mail for the original and it would be interesting to give it some forensic …
CN: The original is in two public libraries and your name is on the bottom of it, you are legally responsible for it. Do you accept that?
MM: This is what you say. We’d like to look at it, but in the meantime, assuming it is true, that does not reflect my view, absolutely. And this was 60, no 56 years ago and it’s an attempt by the Daily Mail to distract from what the real issue is, which is whether they are breaching the Data Protection Act.
CN: Did you at the time in 1961 believe in sending immigrants home to Jamaica? Did you believe that?
MM: No – as your quote already said I believe that financial inducements should be offered, to persuade them to go home. That is now completely academic because we’re 50-odd years on and it’s no longer a possible question. This was in 1961. I ceased to have any involvment with my father’s movement in 1963 … you are entitled as you get older to change your view.
CN: Did you believe that immigrants brought disease to the UK in 1961, is that a belief you held?
A major investigation by the Mail today reveals the racist and thuggish past of ex-Formula One boss Max Mosley
MM: I have no reason to believe that at all. Then or now.
CN: Would you admit that those statements are racist?
MM: I don’t know about racist, they are deeply offensive and …
CN: You don’t think it’s racist to say that immigrants bring disease to the UK?
MM: They might be an immigrant from somewhere like Canada or exactly the same, it’s nothing to do with race it’s to do with immigration.
CN: Coloured immigration threatens people’s health is your claim in the leaflet that I put before you.
MM: It doesn’t say coloured immigrants bring leprosy.
CN: This is the direct quote from the leaflet ‘coloured immigration threatens your children’s health’.
MM: Absolutely, but that’s not …
CN: You’re saying that’s not racist?
MM: Yeah that probably is racist, I will concede that completely but that …
This pamphlet was produced in support of one Walter Hesketh. In November 1961, Mr Hesketh was the Union Movement’s parliamentary candidate for Moss Side. The pamphlet — an identical copy of which can also be found in the Working Class Movement Library in nearby Salford — makes for instructive reading.
CN: So, would you issue an apology to the West Indians in Manchester who must have been absolutely terrified by this?
MM: I have no reason to apologise to anyone.
CN: A lot of people might be really shocked that you can’t apologise for a leaflet that has your name on the bottom, which makes statements that you admit now are racist.
MM: If the that leaflet is shown to be genuine, then I would certainly say it should not have been given … absolutely
CN: So you accept that the views in this leaflet are racist? When did you stop endorsing racist views?
MM: I stopped in 1963.
CN: So you admit that you were a racist in the past?
MM: No I don’t. You said endorsing racist views. If that’s racist, I cannot say I didn’t endorse it because I signed it. But I’ve never been a racist … never will be a racist.
CN: But you published a racist leaflet?
MM: In your view, yes. I mean, I think, you know it’s very disagreeable but racism is where you are sort of attacking people because of their origins. That was an offensive statement about people bringing disease. Not quite the same thing.
CN: You keep on changing your tune; you admitted it was a racist statement and now you’re trying to back track and say it’s merely offensive.
MM: Well I think that you could argue that it’s racist but that’s not really what this is all about. And I mean … now, 56 years later, and trying to distract from the Daily Mail and their activities. If you want to do an investigation, investigate the phone hacking, computer hacking, abuse of people like the Dowlers, the McCanns, why not do that?
The leaflet was produced in support of ‘Union Movement’ candidate Walter Hesketh in 1961
CN: This is a Daily Mail story but we have checked it out independently. But is this leaflet one of the reasons that you’re battling newspapers over their use of the Data Protection Act to erase your past because you haven’t fully owned up to your past?
MM: Obviously not, because I didn’t even know the leaflet existed when I had the News of the World case.
CN: Well, so you say …
MM: Are you calling me a liar?
CN: I’m asking you if you lied in court.
MM: Obviously not.
CN: Do you believe you perjured yourself?
MM: That is a most offensive question.
CN: Did you perjure yourself in the High Court?
MM: That is a most offensive question. I said that … I denied that leaflet. I challenged the leading counsel to produce it. If I hadn’t been absolutely certain that leaflet didn’t exist I wouldn’t have challenged him to produce it.
CN: Now the leaflet has been produced though, are you worried that you may have perjured yourself in court?
MM: Oh dear. Perjury is saying something which … you know is untrue. I said something which I knew in my own mind was true. There’s no question of perjury. It’s a really stupid and offensive question and to suggest that I’ve perjured myself is really stupid and offensive.
CN: Are you a fit and proper person to be funding the office of the deputy Labour leader, Tom Watson?
MM: Absolutely. Absolutely.
CN: Will you give them more money?
MM: Why should I not support Tom Watson, who is probably one of the most honest and courageous politicians we have got.
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