McLaren-Mercedes chief designer Mike Coughlan looks set to reveal his side of the story in the spy row that has engulfed Formula 1 over the past week.

A High Court hearing between Coughlan and Ferrari in London scheduled for today (Wednesday, 11 July) was called off at the eleventh hour, after the 48-year-old agreed to demands to provide a sworn declaration answering Ferrari's questions regarding how confidential information came to be in his possession.

Maranello has accused Coughlan and wife Trudy of stealing technical information, after the latter was said to have taken a 780-page Ferrari document to a photocopying shop to be reproduced. Following the naming of Ferrari's since-sacked head of performance development Nigel Stepney in the affair last week, a tip-off from one of the shop's employees later alerted the Scuderia to Coughlan's alleged involvement too.

Ferrari subsequently obtained a court order, which resulted in a search of the Coughlans' home where the documents were found, along with computers that are due to be examined by experts.

The BBC reports that Nigel Tozzi, representing Ferrari, told a preliminary hearing at the High Court yesterday (Tuesday) the Coughlans had 'behaved disgracefully', saying: "Their conduct by taking these documents, knowing they were not entitled to them, keeping them and copying them - in any view they behaved disgracefully. Ferrari would have remained blissfully ignorant of it if not for the tip-off."

Coughlan has since been suspended by McLaren while the investigations continue, with the suspicion being that Stepney passed the documents onto him. The former has consistently denied any role in the scandal, stressing he has no idea how the documents came to be in Coughlan's possession.

Meanwhile, Nick Fry has also been dragged into the affair after admitting to holding a meeting with Stepney and Coughlan at a Heathrow Airport hotel on June 1, but the Honda team principal insisted all that was discussed was potential employment opportunities with the Japanese manufacturer.

Both Fry and McLaren boss Ron Dennis are adamant they have nothing to hide, with the latter confident the investigations will conclude the information in question was not used to develop the Woking outfit's cars, despite it emerging during the hearing that McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale was aware that Coughlan was in possession of the documents in question.

The FIA is conducting its own investigation, involving a detailed examination of both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton's MP4-22s.

The case continues.

 

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