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McLaren team members warned of investigation

NEWS STORY
08/09/2007

Contrary to outrageously exaggerated reports elsewhere, Italian police did not enter the paddock at Monza shortly after qualifying today in order to issue various members of the McLaren team with formal prosecution notices.

What has happened is that Modena prosecutor Giuseppe Tibis has issued a number of notifications warning a number of members of the British team that they are under investigation.

The notification, known as an avviso di garanzia, notifies an individual that their name has been added to the list of those who are to be investigated with respect to a crime. It does not even imply that the investigators believe the person has committed a crime but that at that particular point of the investigation they need to examine that route.

For instance, if A were to turn up at an Italian police station saying they believe Z is guilty of stealing secrets from them, and after checking basic facts the investigators are satisfied that this is not simply a malicious accusation, Z's name would be added to the list of those to be investigated. The avviso di garanzia is issued to warn Z, though their name may be removed at any time. It is a legal device to protect not to accuse.

In this particular case, the crime is believed to relate to being in possession of secrets, sporting fraud and sabotage.

It is understood that McLaren boss Ron Dennis is one of several people due to receive the notification, the others are believed to be Martin Whitmarsh, Paddy Lowe, Rob Taylor and Jonathan Neale. The team's (suspended) Chief Designer Mike Coughlan is to receive one, as will Nigel Stepney.

The notifications have been prepared by Tibis but they have not yet been served, and certainly there was no incident involving the police in the paddock this afternoon.

"The team was informed on Saturday evening by Modena magistrates that they are involved in an ongoing investigation," a McLaren spokeswoman said this evening.

"Police storm paddock after qualifying" and "McLaren team members charged", might make great headlines, and the stories might make for an exciting read. However it is not the truth, just sensational rubbish.

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