Motor Racing: New role for Carman: Benetton hearing

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The Independent Online
GEORGE CARMAN, Britain's most successful libel lawyer, is to defend the Formula One team, Benetton, in Paris today against charges of trackside irregularities.

Carman will answer allegations by the International Motoring Federation (FIA) that Benetton illegally tampered with their refuelling equipment during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in July, resulting in a fire in which Benetton's Dutch driver, Jos Verstappen, was engulfed in flames.

If found guilty, the team could be handed a substantial fine or even be thrown out of this year's Formula One championship.

Carman is better known for his high-profile cross-examinations of show business personalities and politicians. His past clients have ranged from leading politicians like Jeremy Thorpe and Norman Tebbit to Robert Maxwell and Elton John.

Carman's cross-examination technique has been described by colleagues as 'slow attrition followed by ambush' and his fees are said to be in the region of pounds 500 an hour.

The Benetton driver Michael Schumacher will also be in Paris to appeal against his disqualification from the Belgian Grand Prix and it promises to be an acrimonious meeting.

The Marlboro McLaren team have also been ordered to appear before the FIA today to answer charges of illegally using an automatic gearbox on Mika Hakkinen's car at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on 1 May.