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Briatore seeking damages from a Mosley-led FIA "blinded" by desire for "personal revenge"

NEWS STORY
12/11/2009

In his forthcoming case against the FIA, Flavio Briatore is calling for one million euros in damages, claiming the sport's governing body, under Max Mosley's leadership, was "blinded" by desire for "personal revenge"

The Italian was given a life ban from FIA sanctioned motorsport following the World Motor Sport Council's enquiry into what became known as 'Crashgate', Nelson Piquet's deliberate crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix which effectively handed the race win to (Renault) teammate Fernando Alonso.

As well as losing his job with Renault, Briatore was forced to end all ties with F1, which meant he also had to give up his role as manager to a number of drivers. The ban could also affect his involvement in other sport, chiefly his role as chairman of (English football club) Queens Park Rangers.

However, the Guardian reports that in his forthcoming case, due to be heard at the Tribunal de Grande Instance on 24 November, Briatore, who is seeking the ban to be overturned and a million euros in damages, alleges that the WMSC, chaired by Max Mosley, was "clearly blinded by an excessive desire for personal revenge".

According to the Guardian, Briatore is claiming that many of the procedures adopted during the investigation and subsequent hearing were contrary to the FIA's International Sporting Code and the laws of France. His statement of claim refers to "the excessive and abusive power clearly exercised by both the World Council, in particular, and the FIA, in general" and "the breach by the World Council of the most basic rules of procedure and the rights to a fair trial".

The statement also says that the "obligation to boycott" Briatore is not among the sanctions authorised by the Sporting Code.

The British newspaper quotes Professor Didier Poracchia, a specialist in sporting law at the University of Aix-Marseille, who says: "The most serious sanction available to the World Council is disqualification". However, referring to how the FIA has effectively withdrawn Briatore's licence, the paper points out that the Italian has never needed one, neither as a team manager nor driver manager.

Furthermore, it is claimed that the rules concerning fair trials established by the European Convention on Human Rights were breached, Briatore's statement claiming: "The decisions to carry out an investigation and to submit it to the World Council were taken by the same person, Max Mosley, the FIA president." Going on to claim that Mosley "assumed the roles of complainant, investigator, prosecutor and judge".

The statement refers to "extremely violent disputes" between Briatore and Mosley at the time the Italian represented the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), including being at the forefront of the move to establish a breakaway series.

"Mr Briatore had, in the constructors' names, in fact threatened the FIA and the FOM (Formula One Management) group to instigate a parallel competition, organised without the FIA and without the FOM as rights manager," says the statement.

Indeed, the statement claims that Ecclestone had a vested interest in the case and its outcome. It says that the F1 supremo "took part and was able to vote in the deliberations of the World Council, and was a directly interested party in Renault not suffering a sanction that might discourage it from continuing its participation in the Formula One world championship and could, moreover, be hostile to Mr Briatore as a result of stances taken by him during the previous year on behalf of the constructors involved in Formula One."

The Guardian also claims that Pat Symonds, who received a 5-year ban, is to join Briatore's appeal, the Englishman claiming that the FIA and its World Council conducted the original hearings in an "improper fashion".

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