Spy case court hearing adjourned

The court hearing into the spy scandal surrounding Ferrari and McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan has been adjourned until tomorrow following a preliminary hearing in London's High Court today

But despite reaching no firm conclusions this morning, the hearing did at least confirm some of the facts in the case.

Ferrari's action is being taken against Coughlan and his wife Trudy Coughlan, who is now alleged to have taken the 780-page Ferrari document at the centre of the controversy to a photocopying shop near Woking to be reproduced.

It was a staff member from the photocopying shop who tipped off Ferrari about the matter when they saw that the documents were confidential and belonged to the Maranello team.

Ferrari's lawyer confirmed: "We would not have found out about it were it not from a tip-off by the photocopying agency."

Applications were made at the hearing to follow up on the search order applied for last week to allow computer disks found at Coughlan's house, and images taken off his computer, to be further analysed.

But the case was delayed until tomorrow because Coughlan, who was present but did not speak, wants clarification about self-incrimination privileges and how they related to the ongoing legal investigation taking place in Italy against Nigel Stepney.

The hearing also confirmed that McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale was aware that Coughlan had the documents.

However, there was no definitive answer on whether Neale was told about the situation before Ferrari's legal action against the Coughlan's began or after.

Ferrari's lawyer said: "It is unclear when and how Neale was told about the documents."

Ferrari said that there was no application for legal investigation against Neale, but said that the team were in correspondence with him.

The team's lawyer also said that there were inconsistencies between the dates of events that Coughlan had told them about and the dates of evidence from the photocopying shop.

During today's hearing Ferrari's lawyers also requested the court to award Ferrari with the indemnity costs for the search order rather than the standard costs normally awarded at the end of a legal process.

Coughlan's lawyers objected and argued that the defendants had fully co-operated with the order, to which Ferrari's lawyer responded: "they have received what is not theirs, they have kept it, they have copied it. They have behaved disgracefully."

However the judge, taking note of Coughlan's co-operation, denied Ferrari's request.

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