Stepney to face FIA as Coughlan punished

Former Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney is to meet the FIA soon to explain his role in last year's F1 spy scandal before any punishment is handed down, with a sanction already believed to have been imposed on McLaren's suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan

Stepney to face FIA as Coughlan punished

Sources have revealed that Stepney could face up to a two-year ban from international motor racing for his part in the exchange of information between Ferrari and McLaren last year.

Autosport.com understands that Coughlan has already been punished by the FIA following an apology to the governing body and Ferrari, although there are no details on what sanction he has been given.

The FIA has made it clear that it has no comment on the matter at this stage.

Stepney had been due to meet the FIA's legal department last week but the meeting was postponed because of unforeseen circumstances. A new meeting will be rescheduled for the near future.

Despite the FIA's unwillingness to comment officially on its plans, president Max Mosley wrote a letter to Italian publication Autosprint this week explaining that it was important Stepney and Coughlan had the chance to defend themselves.

This was in response to an open letter published in the magazine a fortnight ago asking why Stepney had not been questioned by the FIA and why he was not banned from FIA sanctioned events.

In the letter Mosley wrote: "No one can be sentenced without having first had the opportunity of defending himself. This is a fundamental legal principle."

He added: "You are wrong in saying that his guilt is an unquestionable fact before he's had the opportunity to defend himself. In condemning someone without giving him the chance to be heard, you deny the justice that is the right of everyone, whatever their responsibilities."

It is understood that in the wake of the spy scandal, the FIA is considering implementing a licencing system, similar to that used for drivers, for all personnel in F1. This would allow them to withdraw licences from - and effectively ban - people who breach FIA regulations.

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