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Geri Halliwell 'to stay away from Bahrain Grand Prix' after 'leak of Red Bull boss husband's messages'

Christian Horner and Gery Halliwell pictured in 2017 (Dave Benett)
Christian Horner and Gery Halliwell pictured in 2017 (Dave Benett)

Formula One boss Christian Horner was on Friday at the centre of a fresh storm on the eve of the new season following the leak of a tranche of intimate messages he allegedly sent to a colleague.

The Red Bull team principal, the husband of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, was cleared on Wednesday after an internal investigation into his alleged behaviour towards the woman.

But the controversy was reignited on Thursday night when an anonymous email with a link to messages purporting to involve Horner was sent to F1 personnel and media. It has overshadowed preparations for the first Grand Prix of the season, which is due to be held in Bahrain tomorrow.

Horner has again denied allegations of inappropriate behaviour following the leak. However, it has now been reported that Halliwell is unlikely to fly to Bahrain to be by her husband’s side in a public show of unity.

She is said to have been “destroyed” by the leaked WhatsApp texts and photographs, some seemingly intimate and apparently between Horner and the complainant. She was “having the meltdown of all meltdowns” having stood by her husband who reportedly promised there was “nothing” in the allegations, a friend told MailOnline.

A spokesman for Red Bull GmbH, the parent company of the F1 team, said: “This is a private matter between Mr Horner and another and it would be inappropriate for Red Bull to comment on this.” Horner has always denied the claims which were investigated by Red Bull GmbH. After being cleared of wrongdoing, he was allowed to keep his £8 million-a-year job.

In a statement following the leak, Horner said: “I will not comment on anonymous speculation, but to reiterate I have always denied the allegations.”

Among those to receive the file of 80 screenshots ahead of this weekend’s race were FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali. All the team principals were also given copies, as well as Red Bull star Max Verstappen’s father, Jos. Horner, who has won 13 world championships since heading the team in 2005, had previously thanked his “very supportive wife” for her backing.

Before the alleged WhatsApp exchange was leaked, Mercedes and McLaren bosses Toto Wolff and Zak Brown called for more transparency from Red Bull on the investigation. Red Bull GmbH declined to reveal any information about the investigation, adding that the report — understood to stretch to 150 pages — was “confidential”. Its statement on Wednesday said: “Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.”

After he was cleared by the internal investigation, Horner said: “It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister and it has concluded, dismissing the complaint made. I remain fully focused on the start of the season.”

But Mr Wolff said: “There is a lady in an organisation that has spoken to HR and said there was an issue and it was investigated and yesterday the sport has received the message that it’s all fine... I believe with the aspiration as a global sport, it needs more transparency and I wonder what the sport’s position is?”