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Italian magistrates contact McLaren - updated 09 Sep 2007

Ron Dennis (GBR) McLaren Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 9 September 2007

McLaren have received notification from Italian authorities that they are formally under investigation as part of enquiries into the leaking of Ferrari data that was found in the team’s possession.

Modena’s public prosecutor, Giuseppe Tibis, has issued ‘avviso di garanzia’ - a legal notice that someone is under investigation in a criminal procedure - to six McLaren personnel, and to former Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney. The issuing of the notification does not in itself imply that any charges will be made.

The McLaren staff named include team boss Ron Dennis, group managing director Martin Whitmarsh, Jonathan Neale, the team’s managing director, technical director Paddy Lowe, designer Rob Taylor, and suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan, the man alleged to have received the leaked data from Stepney - an allegation Stepney denies.

Tibis cites three points in the notifications: possession of industrial secrets, sporting fraud and sabotage, the last of which is understood to relate to allegations that Stepney tampered with Ferrari’s cars at this year’s Monaco Grand Prix, prior to his leaving the team - allegations which Stepney has denied.

Commenting on the arrival of the notifications, McLaren said: "We strongly suspect that the nature and timing of this wholly unnecessary contact, just before the start of qualifying, was to disrupt our preparation for this important session and Thursday's World Motor Sport Council hearing."

The team added: "McLaren is completely confident that were any proceedings of this type ever to be brought we would be completely exonerated."