Stepney ready to prove his innocence

Nigel Stepney is ready to talk to Ferrari bosses to prove he has done nothing wrong, and says all the espionage and sabotage claims are part of a conspiracy against him

Stepney ready to prove his innocence

Ferrari are taking legal action against their former engineer Stepney, whom they suspect of leaking the 780 pages of technical information allegedly found in McLaren's chief designer Mike Coughlan's home.

The Italian police are also investigating sabotage claims following the discovery of a white powder on Ferrari's cars prior to the Monaco Grand Prix. Stepney was dismissed from Ferrari at the start of this month.

Stepney has insisted, however, that he had nothing to do with any of the accusations.

"I'm ready to speak to [Ferrari principal] Jean Todt and to president [Luca di] Montezemolo," Stepney was reported as saying by his lawyers on Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I want to clear my position with Ferrari; I want to let everyone understand it's nothing to do with me.

"And I want to reveal some names of people inside Ferrari who had more interest than myself in doing what I'm unfairly accused of.

"I have nothing against the team and I could never have done such things. I repeat: it's a conspiracy."

Stepney's lawyer Sonia Bartolini added: "Nigel reiterated many times to me that he is totally innocent and that Ferrari must realise he's the victim of a conspiracy.

"If Coughlan really admitted he received certain things from him, then he will have to answer for it: because it's true they met, it's true they perhaps talked about a new work group, but our client never handed over files or documents.

"That's why he wants to meet Ferrari's lawyers or even go to Maranello: he intends to collaborate, he's confident to demonstrate he's innocent. He will also name other people inside Ferrari, because there are other people unhappy about their situation there.

"As for the letter with the sacking notice from Ferrari, it hasn't yet arrived. He still feels attached to the team."

Gazzetta dello Sport also quotes Ferrari's legal department as saying that they could consider talking to Stepney if it helps the case.

"Ferrari are ready to take in consideration every element that can shed light on the issue," they said.

Corriere della Sera also published today segments of what the newspaper says is the Modena police report on the Stepney investigation.

According to the newspaper, a policeman first interrogated Stepney on May 18th, confiscating the trousers he was wearing at the time after finding that now infamous white powder in Stepney's pockets.

"I really can't say how that sand has ended up in my pockets," the newspaper quoted Stepney as telling the police.

"Anyone could have put it there. Last night I left the trousers unattended in the changing room while I was taking a shower."

The newspaper further reports that the initial suspicions arose after a mechanic found what looks like a finely grained, sandy powder near the Ferrari F2007 cars on May 17.

Stepney was linked as a suspect because, according to Modena district attorney Giuseppe Tibis, the Briton was seen twice that day "in immediate proximity to the refuelling machine and the computers" of the two cars.

Furthermore, the police report states that an eyewitness claims to have seen Stepney supposedly emptying the left pocket of his trousers in the location where shortly after the powder was found.

Commenting on the police report, Stepney was quoted by Corriere della Sera as saying: "It's true, I emptied the pockets, as can be confirmed by a friend that was with me at the time. But I don't know how that powder ended in there."

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