America's Cup challenger quick to deny involvement in Team NZ spy scandal

One of the America’s Cup challengers has been quick to deny their involvement in the spy scandal announced by Team New Zealand last night.

Sir Ben Ainslie. Source: Photosport

Sir Ben Ainslie, skipper for INEOS Team UK, told NZME this morning his America’s Cup unit were “in the dark” about the situation.

"There's no comment from us as we've got no insight into what's happened," Ainslie said.

Team New Zealand revealed last night they had terminated a contract after confronting an alleged spy over confidential information which had been leaked from their Auckland headquarters.

The Kiwi team claimed contractors who had full access to their base leaked “sensitive information” which made its way back to Team NZ boss Grant Dalton from Europe.

Dalton revealed on Newstalk ZB this morning he “absolutely” approached who he says is a spy about the leak.

"Something like that, quite simply, you ask the question: 'Were you the leak'? And of course you're going to get an answer: 'No'. And you're looking for body language et cetera.

"The body language was straight - you couldn't have told from that. But they realised the game was up at that stage and within 48 hours, we knew."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – the Government agency staging next year’s America’s Cup – also confirmed last night it will be investigating claims relating to the organisation of the regatta.

MBIE general manager tourism, Iain Crossar, said “this includes structural and financial matters. We are working with America’s Cup Events Ltd, and Emirates Team New Zealand in relation to the claims made.

“As there are contractual agreements in place, we’re unable to go into further detail at this time due to commercial sensitivity, but we will provide a full update once more information is available.”

Dalton said he hopes the investigation can be quickly concluded.

“Although these allegations are baseless, MBIE have no choice but to investigate despite our belief that the motives of the informants are extremely suspect,” Dalton said.

“We are working with MBIE to close out the remaining issues with them quickly.”