Former Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney was killed on the M20 in KentGetty/Mark Thompson
Ayrton Senna
Stepney had once worked with Ayrton

Nigel Stepney, a former Ferrari Formula One engineer who worked with Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna before being sacked over his involvement in the 2007 "spygate" scandal, has died after being hit by a lorry on the M20 near Ashford in Kent.

Kent police said in a statement on Friday: "For reasons yet to be established, the man appears to have entered the carriageway and was then in collision with an articulated goods vehicle. He was pronounced deceased at the scene."

In 2007 Stepney was accused of leaking confidential information when a 780-page dossier of technical information was found at the home of his friend Mike Coughlan, then chief designer for Ferrari's rivals McLaren.

Although McLaren were cleared of wrongdoing at a hearing, they were found guilty at a second hearing and fined €100m. They were also disqualified from the 2007 constructors' championship, although they insisted they had never benefitted from the information passed on by Stepney.

Stepney was convicted of leaking confidential information and also accused of sabotaging the car of Kimi Raikkonen at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison in Italy but never served the sentence. Having been sacked by Ferrari he never worked in Formula One again and prior to his death worked for the JRM motorsport team.

JRM's owner James Rumsey paid tribute to Stepney: "The motorsport world has lost one of its greatest characters and competitors. He will be sorely missed and we send our sincere condolences to his family and the many friends he leaves behind."

Stepney leaves a wife, Ash Naidoo, and daughter Sabine. His wife said: "Motorsport was his passion topped only by his love and devotion to Sabine and I. Nigel was a wonderful partner and a hands-on dad who was besotted with his daughter who idolised him in return.

"They loved each other's company and Sabine was his shadow - delighting in helping him around the garage. Even if Nigel had to be away from home, he would phone her every day."