The governing body of Formula 1, the FIA, is set to start libel proceedings against The Sunday Times following its reporting into the F1 spying saga.

Following the latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, the FIA released a short statement confirming that it intended to start libel proceedings for an article which 'claimed that the FIA was engaged in a witch-hunt against the McLaren-Mercedes team'.

The action surrounds an article dated 9 September - the day of Italian Grand Prix - by ITV-F1 commentator Martin Brundle, which is now noted by the Times on its website www.timesonline.co.uk as being subject to a legal complaint.

"On the eve of the race weekend, at Ferrari's home track, the governing body, the FIA, reopened the McLaren/Ferrari espionage case, citing new evidence," Brundle wrote at the time. "Having reserved the right to throw McLaren out of the 2007 and 2008 championships if information came to light that the technical blueprint of the Ferrari car had spread beyond a rogue McLaren employee and into the organisation, the hearing will be held on Thursday, just before next weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

"For me this has all the feel of a witch-hunt, driven by the very people who have a primary responsibility to the sport. At a time when we should be excitedly micro-analysing the performance of the contenders, we're caught up in this story. Many worldly and wise friends in the paddock yesterday, such as Sir Jackie Stewart and Murray Walker, expressed sadness at events."

The article, headlined "Witch-hunt threatens to spoil world title race" was critical of the manner in which the FIA was handling the ongoing spying saga.