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Experts: Mosley must go quiet over orgy claims

  • Story Highlights
  • Experts: F1 boss Max Mosley can rebuild image with period of silence
  • Court action is only further "fanning the flames" of publicity
  • Mosley needs to find friends willing to put his case over newspaper sting
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By Glen Scanlon
For CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Motor sport boss Max Mosley needs a period of "dignified silence" before finding friends willing to help rebuild his image after claims about his role in a sado-masochistic orgy with five prostitutes, according to media experts.

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Max Mosley, the FIA president, is fighting to keep his position after recent newspaper allegations.

They say Mosley, the President of the FIA, has to stop "fanning the flames" of publicity, and have queried the wisdom of taking legal action.

Mosley is fighting to keep his position after the UK's News of the World published an expose about his sex life, alleging he took part in an orgy with Nazi overtones.

The 67-year-old Mosley has rejected numerous calls to step down, writing a letter to FIA officials saying he was embarrassed by what the newspaper reported but said there was no "Nazi connotation to the matter."

He is suing for violation of privacy and faces a FIA vote of confidence in Paris on June 3.

Mark Borkowski, a media commentator and publicist, said Mosley could survive the revelations. However, "honesty must overwhelm hubris."

"You've got to get above it... fighting a losing battle will compound distress -- while posturing legal threats are meaningless without determination and will."

Borkowski said the key to rebuilding was to let the story die down before going on the offensive.

"He needs to collect a series of messages to be digested by the media to underline his position and treatment by the News of the World."

He said Mosley, who has engaged the firm of former News of the World editor Phil Hall to handle his PR, had to listen to the advice he was now getting.

"You've got to start addressing the basis of it [the allegations]."

Borkowski said Formula One was dominated by arrogance, and at Mosley's level he could not trust anyone.

However, there was "always a way back for people."

Mosley had to embrace the media, particularly 24/7 television, and find friends ready to speak about his privacy being violated. He should also consider foreign publications and Web sites.

"This is a time when you learn who your friends are... it is essential to get the people nearest to you to comprehend the real issues," Borkowski said.

"People who trust and respect you help communicate the positives to rebuild a broken image while aggressive posturing will only provide a platform for the opposition."

He said Mosley had to ensure his arguments were carefully constructed.

"Even if Max feels there are anomalies within their story -- and he has strenuously denied there was any Nazi element to the sex scandal -- the legal process is an expensive, long battle.

"And if the paper loses a legal fight, the apologies are never the same size as the original story."

Borkowski said stories came and went, and personalities had to hope a bigger story took them off the media agenda. The Diana inquest verdict, for example, had provided relief this week.

However, he was worried Mosley might not have the right frame of mind.

"You get a feeling this is a man who doesn't have a modern approach to the media."

Richard Elsen, joint founder of legal PR specialists Byfield, said like a lot of senior executives Mosley had reacted to the claims about his private life by going to court.

On Wednesday a High Court in London declined to grant an injunction preventing the screening of a 90-second extract of an "intrusive and demeaning" video featuring Mosley.

"Justice Eady said there was no public interest in the video but it is already out there. The truth of the matter is you can go to 100s of Web sites and see the video. The injunction bid just fanned the flames," Elsen said.

He believed what Mosley needed was a period of "dignified silence."

"The best thing for him is not to be part of the process... anymore noises in the media will not work."

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He believed any work done on rebuilding Mosley's image should be done behind the scenes and not in the media, even if it was via third parties like friends.

"Third-party endorsements will just create more publicity." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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