Ex-Formula One boss Max Mosley has denied he is racist during an extraordinary live interview over a leaflet, which allegedly branded “coloured” immigrants a health risk, issued by an election campaign he was involved with.
Mosley, who is the son of British wartime fascist Sir Oswald Mosley, went on Channel 4 News to defend himself after the programme said it had found a 1961 election leaflet that suggested immigrants were bringing disease to the UK and threatening jobs.
The pamphlet says it was “published by” Max Mosley, the agent in the Manchester Moss Side by-election for the candidate of the Union Movement, the post-Second World War fascist party led by Mosley’s father.
Host Cathy Newman repeatedly asked him to explain his claim that the leaflet did not make him racist.
One of the more remarkable moments was when, after several minutes of the tense exchange, Mosley’s phone went off.
“Please take your call afterwards,” Newman said, before continuing to ask why he would not apologise to immigrants in the constituency where the election took place.
At the time, Manchester Moss Side was home to a large community of immigrants from the Caribbean.
The leaflet, put out by Union Movement candidate Mark Heskreth, allegedly called for immigrants to be sent back to their country of birth.
It also said they were bringing “tuberculosis, VD and other terrible diseases like leprosy” and “threatening your children’s health”, according to what Newman quoted to Mosley.
She asked Mosley, who left politics shortly after the by-election, whether he believed immigrants should be sent home.
Mosley said this was “academic” because “we are 50 years on”.
“It’s no longer a possible question. I should remind you of this. This was in 1961. I ceased to have any involvement ― I ceased to have any involvement in my father’s politics,” he said.
In an extraordinary exchange, Newman forced Mosley to admit the statements in the leaflet were racist - but he refused to apologise.
Newman: Did you believe at the time that immigrants brought disease to the UK?
Mosley: I’ve no reason to believe that at all, then or now.
Newman: Would you admit those statements are racist?
Mosley: I don’t know about racist. They are deeply offensive.
Newman: You do not think it is racist to say that immigrants bring disease to the UK?
Mosley: They might be an immigrant from somewhere like Canada, it’s nothing to do with race...
Newman: This was particularly about coloured people. ‘Coloured immigration threatens your children’s health’ is what it says.
Mosley: It doesn’t say coloured people bring leprosy.
Newman: This is a direct quote from the leaflet: ‘Coloured immigration threatens your children’s health’. Are you saying that isn’t racist?
Mosley: That probably is racist. I will concede that completely.
Newman: Would you issue an apology to the West Indians in Manchester who must have been absolutely terrified?
Mosley: I have no reason to apologise to anyone. (Mosley said this as he reached into his pocket to check his phone)
Newman: Please take your call afterwards. You are not apologising to anyone for statements you admit are racist?
Mosley: This was a statement in a leaflet, which I’m not even sure was genuine, which would never reflect my view then or now. Because I simply wouldn’t dream of insulting people.
Newman: A Lot of people might be shocked that you can’t apologise for a leaflet, that has your name on the bottom, which makes statements you now admit are racist.
Mosley: If that leaflet is shown to be genuine, then I would certainly say it should not have been given.
The segment came ahead of a Daily Mail story, to be splashed on the front page of Wednesday’s paper, which alleges Mosley lied about the leaflet under cross-examination during his 2008 privacy case against the now-defunct tabloid News Of The World.
Newman asked Mosley whether he lied under oath. He said: “That’s a very offensive suggestion which you shouldn’t make.”
“They asked me in the trial whether the leaflet existed. I said, which was absolutely true, that it was nonsense. That was my recollection. It still is my recollection. I’m not even sure it is genuine. If it is, it doesn’t reflect my views today. This is a red herring put out by the Daily Mail,” he said.