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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Ferrari accuse McLaren of espionage

Ferrari have accused rivals McLaren of espionage after they confirmed that former technical manager Nigel Stepney had passed secrets to a senior McLaren employee in England.

The announcement which comes on the eve of the British Grand Prix, will send shockwaves through the Formula One community as the British team prepare for their home race on Sunday.

"Ferrari confirm that we have brought an action against Nigel Stepney and a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes technical engineer in a court in Modena regarding the theft of technical information," said a spokesman for the Italian team.

Stepney, who has denied any wrongdoings and is currently on gardening leave in the Philippines, accused Ferrari of a dirty tricks campaign against him.

However, McLaren confirmed that an unidentified employee had been suspended pending an investigation into the receipt of classified information, but insisted they only found out on Tuesday of the involvement of their employee.

"McLaren became aware on July 3, 2007 that a senior member of its technical organisation was the subject of a Ferrari investigation regarding the receipt of technical information," they said in a statement.

"The team has learnt that this individual had personally received a package of technical information from a Ferrari employee at the end of April.

"Whilst McLaren has no involvement in the matter and condemns such actions, it will fully co-operate with any investigation."

The McLaren employee was suspended after Ferrari announced that they had dismissed Stepney and that they had taken legal action in England and obtained a search warrant.

"A search was carried out of the (McLaren) engineer's house, where we found this information," the Ferrari spokesman confirmed.

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