Last week Walter Merricks — chairman of the State-approved Press watchdog Impress, of which Max Mosley is the major financial backer via a family trust — sprang to the defence of the ex-Formula One tycoon.
The day after the Mail revealed that, in 1961, Mosley published a racist by-election pamphlet accusing ‘coloured’ people of being a threat to children’s health, Mr Merricks sought to downplay the seriousness of Max’s fascist past with the small number of media outlets that have signed up to Impress.
‘Max Mosley has always been open about the fact he supported his father in his politics,’ Mr Merricks wrote. Somewhat misleadingly, he said it happened ‘when [Mosley] was 19 years old’ — suggesting this was a fleeting teenage indiscretion.
Whites only: Max (circled) at Grand Prix meetings in apartheid South Africa
Surprisingly for the head of an organisation supposedly devoted to ethics and media accuracy, Mr Merricks appears to be unaware of the extent of Mosley’s self-confessed and active involvement in his father Sir Oswald Mosley’s neo-fascist Union Movement which began in 1956, when he was aged 16, and lasted for at least seven years — through university into early adulthood.
Perhaps, more troublingly for this longstanding champion of human rights, Mr Merricks also completely ignored Mr Mosley’s ardent support for an extreme form of ‘total apartheid’ and his dealings with South Africa, a pariah state, which continued into the early 1980s, helping to form the cornerstone of the £6 billion F1 empire he created alongside Bernie Ecclestone.
To be fair to Max, he can be forgiven for being photographed smiling, aged eight, with the pro-Nazi South African apartheid politician Oswald Pirow during a gathering of the Mosley family.
But by the age of 20, and elected to the prestigious role of Secretary of the Oxford Union, Mr Mosley’s own personally hardline views on apartheid were in no doubt, as he made clear in signed articles and letters published in Oxford newspapers Isis, Cherwell and Parson’s Pleasure.
Mr Mosley (pictured at a drivers' meeting in South Africa in 1976) was willing to put his pro-apartheid beliefs into action, getting himself arrested and convicted for obstructing police during disturbances in Trafalgar Square in March, 1961
‘We believe that in real life the African problem is no longer soluble without a complete division of territory which should provide roughly two-thirds of the largely empty continent for the blacks and one-third for the whites,’ Mr Mosley wrote under his own name in Cherwell. Any blacks that remained in white territory ‘at their own risk’ would be stripped of their civil rights, he said.
He went even further in a piece for the satirical publication, Parson’s Pleasure, on February 2, 1961 saying he agreed things had now ‘gone too far for co-racialism’ and added: ‘I feel the West Indian immigrants now in this country should return home.’
On the subject of mixed marriage, he was opposed to it ‘on a large scale’. Most disturbingly, Max was willing to put his pro-apartheid beliefs into action, getting himself arrested and convicted for obstructing police during disturbances in Trafalgar Square in March, 1961.
He was also photographed alongside neo-fascist demonstrators supporting South Africa at the time the civilised world was calling for boycotts of the racist government.
Over the past week, Mr Mosley has strenuously denied ever being a racist. He says he has no recollection of the ‘leprosy’ leaflet of 1961
While Max Mosley was publishing pro-apartheid articles in the UK, his father was lobbying the apartheid government for funds to field candidates in the 1964 UK General Election.
In return, South Africa would benefit from a British government more sympathetic to apartheid and opposed to boycotts. In his autobiography and in interviews, Mr Mosley has said he moved in to motorsport partly to get away from his toxic family name.
But, in 1970 — some 11 years on from the misguided 19-year-old portrayed by Mr Merricks — he was given a personal introduction to one of his father’s South African business contacts.
Max’s dealings with the apartheid state would culminate in the 1981 Grand Prix at Kyalami (pictured above at the same circuit at the Grand Prix Sued-afrika in 1976 and 1978) which — as right-hand man to long-time partner Bernie Ecclestone — he helped organise. The result was their almost total control of the multi-billion-pound F1 empire over three decades.
The Kyalami deal included negotiations with apartheid government ministers. As boycott-busting South African sports promoter Robin Binckes, who helped secure funding for Mr Mosley and Mr Ecclestone’s South African Grand Prix, admitted to the Mail recently: ‘It was wonderful propaganda for the apartheid government, no question.’
Under oath during his 2008 orgy privacy trial against the News Of The World, Max Mosley said that he was impressed with himself that investigators ‘have not been able to find a single thing which I regret saying even now 50 years later’.
Even if he has no regrets — and he has yet to apologise for his racism — surely the Mail’s findings should give Mr Merricks pause before Impress accepts any more of Max Mosley’s tainted millions.
Picture research: Sue Connolly