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OCTOBER 22, 2004

Ecclestone and Stewart - who cares?

Bernie Ecclestone's lawyers say they are to sue Sir Jackie Stewart, the president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, for alleging on BBC radio on Wednesday that Ecclestone had broken his word to Richard Caborn, the Minister of Sport.

"Bernie Ecclestone committed to Richard Caborn that he would commit to a two-year contract in order to allow us the situation we need to develop the land," Stewart told BBC's Today programme. "Now he's walked away from that commitment, which is unusual."

Simon Smith, a partner of media law firm Schillings, said that Ecclestone now intends to sue, presumably for slander.

"Mr. Ecclestone, who has made it clear that he has tried hard to keep the British Grand Prix, and has explained his frustration at why this seems to be impossible in light of failed negotiations with the BRDC, is not suing the BBC, rather just its interviewee," Smith said.

Smith has represented many celebrities including Duran Duran and Naomi Campbell although he is perhaps best known for representing actress Daryl Hannah when she sued The Daily Mirror after the newspaper printed a story suggesting that she had flown home to Los Angeles for her dog's birthday when she should have been in rehearsals for a London play.

The big question for F1 fans is whether or not the British Grand Prix is going to happen in 2005 but if the event is called off, they can at least get some satisfaction watching two vastly wealthy men ripping each other's eyes out in court - and spending large sums of money to do it.

Great sport.