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Coughlan to reveal all in spy row

2007-07-15

McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan has agreed to provide a sworn declaration about how he obtained important Ferrari documents.

Coughlan was suspended by his team after becoming embroiled in the «spy» row that has hit Formula One.

A High Court hearing in London on Wednesday was cancelled when Coughlan agreed to demands to provide an affidavit answering Ferrari’s queries.

However, Ferrari have insisted that the court action is still ongoing.

Ferrari have accused Coughlan and his wife Trudy of stealing technical information.Trudy Coughlan is alleged to have taken a 780-page Ferrari document to a photocopying shop for reproduction.

Ferrari said they would not have known about the missing documents had an employee at the shop not alerted them.

Ferrari confirmed last week a court order had been obtained that resulted in a search of the Coughlans’ home where the documents were found, along with computers to be examined by experts.

Representing Ferrari, Nigel Tozzi told the court on Tuesday: «Their conduct by taking these documents, knowing they were not entitled to them, keeping them and copying them — on any view they behaved disgracefully.

«Ferrari would have remained blissfully ignorant of it if not for the tip-off.»

Stepney insists he has been made by a scapegoat

That tip-off led to the sacking of Ferrari’s head of performance development Nigel Stepney, and McLaren’s suspension of Coughlan.

The suspicion is Stepney passed on the documents to Coughlan, an allegation the former has stringently denied.

Stepney insists he is unaware of how such information came into the possession of Coughlan, who has so far yet to speak on the matter.

Ferrari’s case against Stepney and Coughlan has also been presented with the Modena Tribunal in Italy.

During last week’s British Grand Prix, it was alleged the two men were in collusion with Honda team principal Nick Fry.

Fry confirmed a meeting with both men at a Heathrow Airport hotel on 1 June but insisted they discussed nothing more than the prospect of employment within the Japanese team.

Fry has asserted he has nothing to hide, while McLaren boss Ron Dennis also maintains his team’s integrity and honesty will be upheld.

World motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, is conducting its own investigation, involving a detailed examination of the McLaren cars driven by Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Dennis is confident their findings will reveal the information in Coughlan’s possession was not used to develop the McLarens.

However, it emerged during the hearing McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale was aware Coughlan had the documents.

It is unclear, though, whether Neale knew before or after Ferrari started their legal case.


BBC Sport

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