Lopez in court clash with General Motors

Click to follow
HAMBURG - Evidence given by Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua, the Volkswagen purchasing chief at the centre of an industrial espionage row, was flatly contradicted by his former employers in a Hamburg court yesterday, writes John Eisenhammer.

John Howell, director of business planning for General Motors Europe, told the court that he remembered giving Mr Lopez a 2cm-thick package of documents on 8 March relating to future model and engine development programmes of GM's subsidiary, Opel, including the replacement for the Astra model.

'I specifically remember giving him one,' Mr Howell said. Mr Lopez had previously stated he had seen neither designs nor technical details on the Astra successor. Mr Lopez said he had received no package of documents, just a few charts.

Mr Lopez had also stated he had neither requested nor received photographs of the new Opel Vectra model, coded 2900. But sworn affidavits from GM executives stated that these photographs were given to Mr Lopez in early February 1993.

The court also heard how Mr Lopez had requested in February the copying of 150 charts and 300 'flimsies' for overhead projectors on future purchasing plans. The GM witnesses were called by Der Spiegel magazine, which is seeking to overturn a temporary injunction slapped on it by Volkswagen preventing the magazine from repeating allegations of industrial espionage.

Counsel for Der Spiegel said that Mr Lopez had 'had lots of documents, many that had nothing to do with his job, and there is a strong possibility that he took them with him'.

Mr Lopez, in an affidavit read to the court, denied taking any GM proprietary information to VW. Der Spiegel's counsel said that since leaving GM in March Mr Lopez had 'wriggled like an eel' to get round GM's requests for assurances that he had not taken anything.