Judge reveals reasons behind Stig ruling

The Stig has moved to another channel

A judge has announced his reasons for refusing to ban a book disclosing that Top Gear’s The Stig is Ben Collins.

After a private hearing last month, Mr Justice Morgan said he would not grant the BBC an injunction blocking 35-year-old Mr Collins’ autobiography – The Man In The White Suit.

The BBC had claimed that the publication by HarperCollins on September 16 would breach confidentiality obligations.

But, in a public ruling, the judge said that while Mr Collins did owe a duty of confidentiality to the BBC, the identity of the mystery driver was so generally accessible that it could no longer be regarded as confidential.

He said that the press coverage, particularly in August, had gone well beyond speculation and statements in the media that Mr Collins was The Stig would be understood by the public as statements of fact.

“For all practical purposes, anyone who would have any interest in knowing the identity of The Stig now knows it.

“The identity of The Stig is no longer a secret and it is no longer confidential information.”

He added: “In the present case, the identity of Mr Collins as The Stig is in the public domain.

“If that has caused and/or will cause harm to the BBC, I do not see how any further harm will be caused to the BBC if Mr Collins is allowed to publish his autobiography in time for the 2010 Christmas market.”

Mr Collins has since joined rival show Fifth Gear where he will appear without his trademark helmet.

The ex-James Bond stunt double is due to make his debut on the Channel 5 show this week.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We are pleased that the judge agreed with the BBC that Ben Collins was fully aware that he was required to keep his identity secret in terms of the confidentiality clauses he had agreed to.

“It was right for the BBC to bring this case. The BBC will always fight to protect its programmes and characters.”

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