FIA president Max Mosley apologized Tuesday for any embarrassment he caused Formula One racing but refused to step down following a story in a British tabloid that accused him of engaging in sex acts with five prostitutes that involved Nazi role-playing.
In a letter addressed to the presidents of FIA clubs, members of the FIA senate, the World Motor Sport Council and the World Council for Mobility and the Automobile, Mosley said he would pursue legal action against the News of the World newspaper, which first published the story, and denied the Nazi role-playing.
"... I am very sorry if this has embarrassed you or the club," Mosley wrote.
"Not content with publicizing highly personal and private activities, which are, to say the least, embarrassing, a British tabloid newspaper published the story with the claim that there was some sort of Nazi connotation to the matter. This is entirely false.
"It is against the law in most countries to publish details of a person's private life without good reason.
"The publication by The News of the World is a wholly unwarranted invasion of my privacy and I intend to issue legal proceedings against the newspaper in the UK and other jurisdictions."
"The News of the World stands by its story," newspaper spokeswoman Hayley Barlow said.
Mosley wrote that he has received many messages of support and he is committed to remaining FIA's president.
"I have received a very large number of messages of sympathy and support from those within the FIA and the motorsport and motoring communities generally, suggesting that my private life is not relevant to my work and that I should continue in my role.
"I shall now devote some time to those responsible for putting this into the public domain, but above all I need to repair the damage to my immediate family who are the innocent and unsuspecting victims of this deliberate and calculated personal attack.
"You can, however, be certain that I will not allow any of this to impede my commitment to the work of the FIA."
As a result of the scandal, Mosley might not attend the Bahrain Grand Prix. He also was to join the Bahraini royal family for a formal dinner. But those plans are in doubt following the News of the World report.
"Mr. Mosley was originally scheduled to arrive in Bahrain, but FIA is not aware of his travel plans," FIA said Tuesday in a statement to The Associated Press. "Mr. Mosley has been busy holding discussions with lawyers and has not communicated his latest plans to us."
Mosley is the son of British Union of Fascists party founder Oswald Mosley, a former British politician who served in Parliament for both the Labour and Conservative parties. Oswald Mosley died in 1980.
Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone urged Mosley to skip the race. Two former Formula One champions also have questioned whether Mosley should stay on as president.
"I just think he has to look very carefully at it [his role] and address his future," said Jackie Stewart, a three-time F1 champion from Scotland.
Jody Scheckter of South Africa, the 1979 F1 champion, urged Mosley to step down before the president's fourth term ends in October 2009.
"There is absolutely no question in my mind that Mosley should resign," Scheckter told The Guardian newspaper. "From a purely motor racing point of view you can't have somebody like this running the sport or any other sport come to that."
A video posted Sunday on the News of the World's Web site showed a man identified as Mosley arriving at an apartment and then taking part in sex acts with women, one in a prisoner's uniform, while also speaking German. The video can no longer be found on the paper's Web site.
"He shouldn't go, should he?" Ecclestone told The Times of London. "The problem is he would take all the ink away from the race and put it on something which, honestly and truly, is nobody else's business anyway."
Scheckter said Mosley should step down before the president's fourth term ends in October 2009.
"There is absolutely no question in my mind that Mosley should resign," the former South African driver told The Guardian newspaper. "From a purely motor racing point of view you can't have somebody like this running the sport or any other sport come to that."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.