Todt camp accused of bully tactics

The increasingly bitter battle for the FIA presidency took a fresh twist on Sunday when one of Jean Todt's main supporters was accused of intimidation in a bid to secure votes for the Frenchman

Todt camp accused of bully tactics

A report in the Mail on Sunday claimed that Surinder Thatthi, who is on Todt's ticket to become Sport Vice President of the FIA, made veiled threats to Jack Wavumunno, the former president of the Federation of Motor Sport Clubs in Uganda, about his voting plans.

Wavumunno is quoted as saying that Thatthi rang him twice in August - firstly to suggest that supporting Vatanen's campaign would not be in his best interests of himself or his club, and then secondly to claim that supporting Todt could help find the Ugandan club a sponsor to pay its FIA subscription fees.

"Surinder Thatthi said it would not be in the interests of me, or the FMU, if I stood against him for the WMSC and the FMU did not vote for Jean Todt. I felt it was a veiled threat," said Wavumunno.

"In the second call, he said he was aware there was money outstanding from the FMU's subscription to the FIA and he had a sponsor who could pay that, but only on the condition that I withdrew my candidacy and we gave our vote to his candidate, Todt.

"I told him the Federation was making arrangements to pay the money and did not need to sell that vote."

Thatthi has denied the allegations put forward by Wavumunno, and stated that he has not spoken to anyone at the FMU since early August.

However, the Mail on Sunday claims to have seen telephone records that show Thatthi's mobile phone did make calls to Wavumunno on August 29 and September 11. A further call was made to former FMU president David Bitalo on August 29.

The suggestions of intimidation come at the end of a dramatic week in the presidential fight, which has seen the FIA criticise Vatanen's campaign in the wake of the former world rally champion going to the French courts to ensure next Friday's election is fair and democratic.

Vatanen said over the weekend: "The vote has to be seen as fair. The rules of democracy are universal and voting law in France is very strict."

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