Former Ferrari engineer sentenced over ‘spy-gate’ saga
Ferrari’s former chief mechanic Nigel Stepney has been given a 20-month prison sentence by an Italian court for his role in the “spy-gate” scandal.
Ferrari fired Stepney in July 2007 and launched criminal proceedings accusing him of passing confidential technical data to arch-rivals McLaren and plotting to sabotage Ferrari’s cars.
McLaren were fined a record $100million by the FIA for their part in the scandal and were kicked out of the constructors’ championship after the Woking-based team were found guilty of possessing a 780-page Ferrari dossier.
While both teams agreed to put the matter behind them the following year, Ferrari continued with its criminal action against Stepney.
Local press in Modena reported on Wednesday that Stepney was sentenced to a 20 months in prison and slapped with a €600 fine for “sabotage, industrial espionage, sporting fraud and attempted serious injury”.
Stepney’s lawyer Sonia Bartolini is quoted as saying: “We can be satisfied, even if my client has always denied sabotage.
“We have to thank the prosecutor for agreeing to a plea bargain. Initially the sentence was much higher, but I don’t want to be specific.”
The FIA had warned its licence holders against working with Stepney or former McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan -the man found with the Ferrari dossier. That stance, however, was relaxed in early 2009 as the FIA concluded that both men had been “minor players” in the scandal, with Stepney working in the FIA GT1 Championship for Sumo Power.