Stepney left Italy after espionage scandal
9 July 2007 – Former Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney has left Italy after being accused by Ferrari of espionage. Stepney though denies he had copied secret information at Ferrari's factory and sent it to McLaren's designer Mike Couglan.
"I categorically deny that I copied them (the files) or that I sent them to Mike Coughlan," Stepney told The Sunday Times. "I knew I was being watched all the time at the factory and that everything I did or said was being reported back, and that people knew whenever I accessed files on the computer. I have no idea how anything came into Mike's possession. If he has some documents, they came from another source."
Stepney furthermore said he feels being a victim of Ferrari's internal politics and said the problems began when he told the team he wasn't happy at Ferrari anymore. "Ferrari took that badly. I began to feel like I was some sort of traitor. As soon as I went against the system at Ferrari, I got squeezed. I'm anxious, naturally, but I haven't done anything wrong."
And now Stepney is being followed by what he believes are spies from the Italian team. "There have been high-speed car chases," Stepney said. "We've been followed by more than one car, with Italian plates, and when we cornered one of them last Thursday evening, the men in it refused to speak.
"I don't believe they were journalists. My girlfriend, Ash, has been stalked at the house. There was tracking gear on my car. Someone was going to get hurt. I had no option but to get out of Italy."
But Stepney feels he is completely innocence. "I categorically deny that any technical information passed between Mike and I during that meeting or at any time," he said.