The FIA's Ethic Committee has dismissed David Ward's complaint regarding Jean Todt's re-election campaign, claiming the charges "vague" and "unsubstantiated".
Ward claimed that regional clubs had been effectively forced into signing 'support letters' for Todt at meetings in Montevideo and Bangkok earlier this year. Following Ward's formal complaint to the Ethics Committee last month evidence was heard in Paris last Friday, the Englishman and Todt both called to give evidence.
In an 11-page report, which Pitpass has seen, the committee concluded:
"Based on the foregoing, the Committee finds that nothing in what the Committee saw or heard gives any hint that any ethical regulation of the FIAhas been breached by Mr. Todt or any of the parties implicated.
"The Committee also did not see any evidence of any kind supporting the allegation that people were coerced into signing the Letters of support for Mr Todt. On the contrary, the Committee has received numerous letters from individual who attended the relevant meetings, albeit unsolicited, clearly showing that the Letters of support were voluntary.
"The Committee ha seen no collusion of any kind whatsoever by Mr. Todt or by any ofthe parties implicated to influence the results of the forthcoming presidential election in any unethical way. Indeed, Mr Ward asserted several times at the hearing that he was not suggesting any conspiracy or wrongdoing by Mr Todt. His complaint in reality was about the FIA Statutes, in particular article 9.4, which requires a list of candidates to be provided including seven Vice-Presidents for Sport. However, the Committee questions the choice made by Mr Ward to raise his point at this moment of the election process.
"As put forward by Mr Ward himself, he has been serving the FIA for 20 years and knows the legal framework very well. It is therefore inappropriate for such an experienced executive, particularly for someone who is currently running for the FIA Presidential election, to challenge the regulations before the Ethics Committee in the heat of the elections.
"It is not the role of the Ethics Committee to review the regulations related to the election process. It is the view of the Ethics Committee that proposals made by Mr Ward could be raised and deliberated by the appropriate FIA Body.
"The Montevideo agreement and the Bangkok letter of support are not binding on the clubs in any way whatsoever. This is the admitted position of Mr. Todt as well.
"Also, Mr Todt has acknowledged and asserted in his response that the Presidential election will be by secret ballot. The fact that people have made declarations of support or have publicly nominated Mr Todt is not relevant. When they vote, this will be by secret ballot. They will be absolutely free to depart from any declaration they have given previously. Therefore, there is no breach of article 7 of the IRs.
"Elections must be impartial, free and fair. That goes without saying. The Committee thus found unanimously that the facts reported to it do not show that Mr Jean Todt and the parties implicated have breached either the regulations mentioned in the Complaint or any other FIA ethical rule."
Reacting to the report, Ward said: "I am disappointed that the Ethics Committee did not accept that the support agreements obtained by Mr Todt are inconsistent with the FIA rules and policies regarding its Presidential election. I do not agree that I failed to produce any evidence in support of my complaint. I submitted witness statements which showed clearly that there was concern about the support agreements. That I was requested to submit them only under conditions of strict confidentiality also reveals the difficulty that some club representatives have in expressing their opinions on this issue openly. I also documented how in other regions notably in Africa and in Europe club leaders were concerned about the issue and opposed to signing support agreements. The Committee has powers to investigate but it my case it chose not to use them.
"I regret that the Committee did not respond to my protest about its composition which included a member from a club that was directly involved in the support agreement issue and clearly supportive of Mr Todt. It is very disappointing that they refused to do so even after a very senior club President had written independently to the Committee asking that its composition should be "uncontested and above suspicion".
"The Ethics Committee suggests that I was wrong to challenge regulations "in the heat of the elections" and implies that I could have raised this with another "appropriate FIA body". The Committee seems to imply that I should have referred this to the Statutes Review Commission which meets only infrequently and has no specific role in supervising the election. Unfortunately the FIA lacks an Election Commission or similar independent body to which procedural complaints can be lodged. Given that there was urgency in my request to declare the support agreements be revoked it is hard to understand why the Ethics Committee is opposed to dealing with such issues.
"The 2013 FIA election process is already marred by confusion over the rules and the use of support agreements. These irregularities notably concern the requirement to have the support of seven Vice Presidents for Sport. I think the Ethics Committee has failed to understand the connection between support agreements ratified by an FIA region on bloc and the huge difficulty this creates for any candidate trying to obtain Vice Presidents for their list. In my view the Ethics Committee can and should consider such issues and make recommendations for change.
"My purpose in standing has been to highlight the current flaws in the governance of the FIA. I think the current confusion over the election rules which require a change even after the contest has started proves my point. It is also regrettable that the Ethics Committee has, in my opinion, failed to address important issues about the fairness and transparency of the election process."