MCLAREN SPY SCANDAL INVESTIGATION

Stepney and Ron Dennis, Whitmarsh probed in spy scandal

3 March, 2008

BY OUR AUTOMOBILE CORRESPONDENT

Top officials at British-based McLaren are being quizzed by Italian investigative agencies over last year's spy scandal.

In 2007, McLaren was fined 50 million pounds and stripped of all their points in the 2007 Formula One constructors' championship by FIA, the motorsport governing body. This followed revelations that they were guilty of being in possession of leaked technical information from Italian rivals Ferrari. The decision had come after a Ferrari dossier, running up to 780 pages, was discovered at the home of McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan. The FIA probe into the matter had by then concluded. However, separate legal inquiries are still going on.

Nigel Stepney, who was sacked as Ferrari's head of performance development, was interrogated by Modena prosecutor Giuseppe Tibis on February 18, 2008. Stepney is alleged to have passed the information on to Coughlan. Apart from Stepney, McLaren’s team principal Ron Dennis and chief executive Martin Whitmarsh were also questioned.

The investigating team is reported to have said that their findings will show that McLaren's senior management was very much in the know of the information leakage. McLaren has evinced surprise at this and has said that it is very unlikely that the investigators will come up with new information.

Meanwhile, Mclaren has reiterated that it was continuing its cooperation with enquiries instigated by the Modena Magistrate. It has been reported that the Surrey Police had accompanied Italian investigators to the homes of a number of McLaren executives as part of their ongoing investigation. A team had also visited the McLaren Technology Centre to carry out the interrogations.

Stating that the investigating officials are completely satisfied with the co-operation they have received from McLaren’s side, the team has also said that these actions are part of a normal judicial process in connection with the ongoing investigation, and are supported by McLaren Racing.

 

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