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FIA warns teams over Stepney collaborations 07 Mar 2008

Nigel Stepney (GBR) Ferrari Chief Mechanic.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006

The FIA has recommended that teams proceed with caution in any potential collaboration with former Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney, the man accused of passing confidential information to rivals McLaren in last year’s ‘spy scandal’ affair.

In a statement released Friday, the FIA said Stepney had admitted the allegation, but that he disputed “the seriousness and extent of his involvement”. The FIA went on to explain it is not in a position to take formal action against Stepney, but warned against employing him without first carrying out “appropriate due diligence”.

McLaren were fined $100 million and stripped of their 2007 constructors’ points by the FIA over the affair, which is still the subject of an investigation by Italian police.

The FIA statement in full:
“In its investigations of last year regarding the unauthorised use of intellectual property within Formula One, the FIA heard allegations that Mr. Nigel Stepney, then employed by Ferrari, had passed confidential Ferrari information to an employee of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Mr. Stepney has admitted this allegation and apologised to the FIA, though he disputes the seriousness and extent of his involvement.

“As Mr. Stepney is not a licence-holder of the FIA, no formal action may be taken against him under the International Sporting Code (though the FIA is co-operating with the Italian police, who are investigating Mr. Stepney's actions). As a matter of good order, the FIA recommends to its licensees that they do not professionally collaborate with Mr. Stepney without conducting appropriate due diligence regarding his suitability for involvement in international motor sport. This recommendation stands until 1 July 2009.”