Leading sports barristers are warming up to take their places in the latest scandal to rock Formula 1 (F1).
Monckton Chambers’ Paul Harris will team up with 3-4 South Square’s Mark Phillips QC to go head-to-head with 3 Verulam Buildings’ Ali Malek QC before the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris today (21 September) in a row over race-fixing that threatens to drag the embattled sport further into the pits.
Harris has been instructed by Sidley Austin partner Dorothy Corey-Wright to represent world motor sport governing body the Fédération Internationale l’Automobile (FIA), and Phillips by Steeles Law partner Domonic Crossley to represent former F1 Renault driver Nelson Piquet junior, in the controversial FIA case against Renault, which has turned to Malek, who was instructed by Withers partner Andrew Ford.
The case centres on the accusation that Renault cheated at the Singapore Grand Prix by ordering Piquet to deliberately make way for his team-mate Fernando Alonso by crashing his car.
Piquet sensationally blew the whistle on Renault, claiming that he was instructed to crash by his team manager Flavio Briatore, who last week admitted the charge. Piquet has now been granted immunity from prosecution by the FIA by offering to provide evidence against his former team.
The scandal, which has become known as ‘Crashgate’ in F1 circles, will see Renault go before an extraordinary meeting of the WMSC to face a disciplinary hearing.
Phillips last week successfully reversed a ban enforced against Arsenal FC forward Eduardo de Silva by Uefa for cheating.
Uefa had enforced the two-match ban after it found de Silva guilty of diving in a Champions League qualifying match against Celtic. Instructed by Slaughter and May partner Andrew Jolly, Phillips argued that de Silva had not shown dishonest intent and therefore should escape prosecution.
Phillips is not unused to the sports spotlight, having represented Lewis Hamilton in 2007 when McLaren was accused of spying on rival Ferrari. Phillips argued successfully that Hamilton should be immune from prosecution, despite being a McLaren driver.