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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report


McLaren dismiss media speculation in spy case

Alan Baldwin | July 17, 2007 18:37 IST

Nobody at McLaren knew before July 3 that one of the team's employees had confidential Ferrari [Images] information in his possession, the Formula One championship leaders said on Monday.

McLaren were responding in a statement to media speculation after a High Court hearing last week led to their suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan providing Ferrari with an affidavit.

The spy saga threatens to wreck the title hopes of rookie Lewis Hamilton [Images] and Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images], with their Mercedes-powered team summoned by the governing FIA to a hearing in Paris on July 26.

"McLaren is concerned that erroneous speculation has arisen from inaccurate and misleading reference to the contents of confidential legal papers filed at court in response to Ferrari's UK action to recover its intellectual property," the team said.

"This is unfortunate and is prejudicial to a fair interpretation of these matters.

"McLaren can confirm from its own investigation that no Ferrari materials or data are or have ever been in the possession of any McLaren employee other than the individual sued by Ferrari," McLaren added.

"The fact that he held at his home unsolicited materials from Ferrari was not known to any other member of the team prior to July 3, 2007."

McLaren have yet to name Coughlan in any of the statements since their announcement on July 3 that a senior technical employee had been suspended. 

PARIS HEARING

Hamilton leads Alonso by 12 points while McLaren are 25 clear of Ferrari in the constructors' standings.

Media reports in Italy [Images] at the weekend speculated that Coughlan's affidavit could implicate other McLaren employees, calling into question who knew what and when.

Ferrari are also taking separate legal action in Italy against their former engineer Nigel Stepney, whom they suspect of leaking the 780 pages of technical information contained in two computer discs allegedly found in Coughlan's home.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has charged McLaren with unauthorised possession between March and July of confidential Ferrari information.

The date is a key to the outcome of the case, potentially calling into question every result so far in a championship that started on March 18.

If found guilty of fraudulent conduct or committing an act prejudicial to the interests of the sport, McLaren face sanctions ranging from a reprimand, to loss of points or exclusion from the championship.

McLaren said they had categorically established that no Ferrari information had at any stage been used to develop its car and looked forward to the Paris hearing.

© Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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