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FIA Foundation head defends Todt role

FIA Foundation director general David Ward has denied suggestions that he has acted inappropriately in expressing his support for Jean Todt in the forthcoming presidential election.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted leaked emails from the head of the Foundation - a charitable organisation technically independent from the FIA, and which features both Todt and Ari Vatanen as trustees - in which he discusses strategies for lobbying in Todt's favour, and discusses edits of the Frenchman's policy documents.

Robert Darbelnet, head of the American body the AAA, originally wrote to the Foundation to express his concern at Ward's actions, and enclosed copies of the correspondence in question.

"If the Foundation's resources have been used to support an FIA election campaign, such activities are unlikely to be viewed as in furtherance of the charity's objects," Darbelnet wrote.

"It could also confer an unauthorised private benefit on a trustee and create a reputational risk for the Foundation."

The FIA Foundation said it "will be addressing these issues" in a statement on its website, and also published emails from Ward in which he insists his work for Todt's campaign is separate to his duties with the charity.

"Trustees may not be aware that I am employed by the Foundation for four days a week," Ward wrote. "In my spare time, on a voluntary basis I have been helping Jean Todt develop his candidacy policy agenda and providing advice to his campaign but not take any public position.

"My assistance has not involved use of the Foundation resources. Indeed I have been careful to avoid this occurring and as you know I proposed that we delay decision taking on grant applications made by FIA clubs until after the election."

But Darbelnet has already suggested that he feels the question of whether Ward was working for Todt's campaign while on Foundation duties could be irrelevant.

"Even if all this occurred on personal time and without the use of any Foundation resources whatsoever, the tone of the communication in attachment B, if true, raises serious ethical questions," he wrote.

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