Plea bargain could keep Ecclestone in charge


Apr.18 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has denied rumours he will strike a plea deal with Munich prosecutors to stay out of jail and in charge of F1.

The sport's chief executive faces up to a ten-year custodial sentence if found guilty at the end of a trial that begins in Germany next week.

But rumours in Shanghai suggest the 83-year-old actually intends to strike a mid-trial deal with prosecutors whereby he pleads guilty but stays out of jail in order to remain in charge of formula one.

Asked about the plea bargain rumours, Ecclestone insisted: "No, not at all.

"I'm going into this trial to prove my innocence of what I'm being charged with," he told the Telegraph.

Donald Mackenzie, the F1 boss at the sport's commercial rights owners CVC, has said that if Ecclestone is found guilty of a criminal offence, he will be sacked.

But, citing a "CVC source", Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson has reported from the scene of the Chinese grand prix that a plea bargain "would throw up a different set of circumstances".

Ecclestone responded: "You should ask Donald.

"What can I say?" the Briton is quoted by the Guardian newspaper. "I can't speak for him."