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Briatore sues the FIA again

NEWS STORY
18/01/2010

In the wake of successfully convincing a French court to overturn his ban from F1 former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore released a triumphant statement but if the FIA thought that was the end of the matter it was sorely mistaken.

A report in today's Telegraph written by Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt reveals that Briatore began further legal action last week in Geneva against the FIA. This action is specifically to claim damages due to the loss Briatore claims his driver management business suffered when drivers and teams were barred from working with him after he allegedly asked Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in the 2008 Singapore GP.

"Tomorrow we go to Geneva to sue the FIA," Briatore said over lunch with Sylt on Tuesday last week. "We will start to sue for damages for the management company," he added and explained that as a result of the ban "we lost Alonso, we lost Kovalainen, we lost several drivers. We will sue the FIA for the money and it's written in the contract how much we lost." But that's not all. "Plus what's done is damage to reputation," he said.

One of Briatore's biggest bones of contention was that he had been denied the right to a free and fair defence of the claims. Briatore's work for the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) reportedly led to him having "some extremely violent disputes" with the then FIA-president Max Mosley who he claimed had been "blinded by an excessive desire for personal revenge." Crucially, in addition to being president of the FIA, Mosley was also chairman of the World Council which banned Briatore and this was the straw which broke the camel's back.

The French court upheld Briatore's complaint in a written statement which added that "the decision of the World Council was presided over by the FIA president...with Mr. Mosley having played a leading role in launching the enquiry...in violation of the principle of separation of the power of the bodies."

Briatore claims that this flaw effectively invalidates all the key decisions which the World Council has made in recent years from the suspended three-race ban on McLaren last year for lying to stewards to the same team's $100m fine in 2007 for being in possession of Ferrari's blueprints. "In the last 15 years, everything is illegal...every decision made by the World Council was illegal," he said, adding "every decision with McLaren, with the drivers, with everything."

Briatore's lawyer Philippe Ouakrat explains that "it is against French and international laws for an organism to be jury, procedural body and investigating body at the same time, with the president of an institution that decides who to investigate, that controls investigators, and that presides the judging organ." In a nutshell, no one person should be judge, jury and executioner and accordingly Briatore's lawyer says that the FIA needs an overhaul to regain its credibility.

"The court has practically granted all our requests, but the most serious element is the one that casts a doubt over the FIA World Council's structure itself, which in fact can't exist anymore," says Ouakrat. Seemingly in acknowledgement of this the FIA released a statement on 11 January saying that "in his election campaign last summer, FIA President Jean Todt and his team announced that new measures for constructive change, including a disciplinary procedure, would be introduced. Work on this is well advanced. Once in place, this will address the issues in the Court's judgement."

In its statement the FIA also announced that it will appeal the French ruling but even this decision has been questioned by one World Council member who says that "the decision to appeal is a decision that should have been taken by the World Council but we haven't had a World Council meeting."

But that's not all.

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